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Ban of assault weapons will not diminish number of mass-shooting victims, scientists claim

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Posted June 25, 2014
Picture: Non-Violence. Author: Francois Polito. Year: 2003. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Picture: Non-Violence. Author: Francois Polito. Year: 2003. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

America was shocked when 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 27 people in Sandy-Hook elementary school two years ago. Unsurprisingly, prevention of such incidents was one of the most discussed issues in the U.S. over the last few years. Senator Dianne Feinstein argued that some types of firearms should be banned. However, computer simulations reveal that effect of such prohibition would be insignificant.

“The assault weapons portion of the proposed bill will have no effect on the number of people killed or wounded in a mass shooting,” Roy and Reginald Hayes at University of Virginia stated.

Mass shootings have turned into a serious problem during the last decade. Frequency of such assaults increased dramatically, as well as the number of victims. One of the possible solutions to this problem was offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein. She initiated a bill forbidding assault weapons, such as Kalashnikov or Bushmaster.

“For a rifle to be considered an assault weapon it must be semiautomatic, meaning a repeating rifle that utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round; and requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge,” the scientists explain. However, the present version of the bill does not mention parameters, which can have considerable importance, such as the rate of fire. Consequently, scholars used computer simulations in order to find investigate how various gun parameters number of victims during the armed attacks.

The results of the simulation showed that Feinstein’s project will not help to achieve the intended objectives. According to the researchers, prohibition of these firearms will not diminish the number of killed or injured people. “In the best possible case, the assault weapons ban may make firearms slightly less accurate by disallowing forward grips and barrel shrouds. However, wearing a heat resistant glove would serve the same purpose as a barrel shroud,“ they write.

The scientists by no means are skeptical about regulation measures in general. They claim that promising regulation measures should necessarily take into account rate of fire of the guns. “The assault weapons ban does not seek to decrease the rate of fire of any firearm. Of the parameters tested a weapon’s rate of fire has the greatest effect on the number of people wounded or killed by that weapon,” Roy and Reginald Hayes explain.

Article: Hayes R. and Hayes R., 2014, ‘Agent-Based Simulation of Mass Shootings: Determining How to Limit the Scale of a Tragedy’ Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 17 (2) 5, source link.

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