Laws banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines would have direct market effects for the gun industry, including impacts on production, price, and potential spillovers from primary to secondary markets (Koper, 2004).
The market effects of restricting the manufacturing and sales of a class of weapons or ammunition will depend on the relative demand for these items, the availability of nonbanned weapons that serve as close substitutes, and the costs of modifying existing weapon types to meet the requirements of the ban, to name a few.
A nationwide ban could also impact the industry more broadly by generating market effects for ancillary gun companies that produce or sell certain replacement parts, accessories, or specialized magazines and precision barrels used primarily for sport shooting.
Overall, the effects of these policies will depend largely on the design and implementation of the law.
And although these policies could plausibly impact defensive gun use, the magnitudes of any such effects are likely small.
The FBI reported that, in 2015, eight of the 328 firearm-related justifiable homicides by private citizens involved any type of rifle (FBI, 2016c).
California is an example of a state that has a list of banned assault weapons, both rifles and shotguns, as well as firearms with specific design features.
Specifically, it bans “all AK series including, but not limited to, the models identified,” and explains that the term For example, the law states that a “semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine” is an assault weapon if it also contains any of the following features: “(A) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; (B) a thumbhole stock; (C) a folding or telescoping stock; (D) a grenade launcher or flare launcher; (E) a flash suppressor; (F) a forward pistol grip.” Connecticut’s list is similar to California’s, but the language is different.
In state and federal gun laws, it generally refers to specific semiautomatic firearm models that are designed to fire a high volume of ammunition in a controlled way or to firearms that have specified design features, such as folding stocks or pistol grips (Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, undated-a). The law included a sunset provision, calling for its repeal after ten years.
should apply only to automatic weapons used by militaries. It was not renewed in 2004, and thus there is not currently a federal assault weapon ban (Plumer, 2012).