For Immediate Release
Since Assault Weapons Ban Lifted, At Least 163 Dead, 185 Wounded, 15 Police Officers Dead, 23 Wounded
WASHINGTON - In the four years since the federal assault weapons ban expired on
September 15, 2004, at least 163 people have been killed and 185
wounded with military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, including at
least 38 police officers killed or wounded, according to a report being
issued today by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Restrictions on assault weapons, which drew support from Presidents
Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W.
Bush, have been addressed by both major candidates for President:
"Senator Barack Obama has stated as recently as his convention
acceptance speech that it is imperative that criminals be denied the
use of assault weapons," the report says. "Senator John McCain, who
has opposed the NRA on gun shows and other issues, has been firm in his
opposition to an assault weapon ban."
The report outlines how the availability of assault weapons has altered
the balance of power on urban streets between police and criminals,
endangering police officers and causing a growing number of police
departments to use assault weapons to match the firepower they face .
The report also explores the ties between terrorism and assault weapons.
"Our communities are less safe today than they were four years ago,
when devastating weapons like AK-47s were not as easily available to
thugs and other dangerous people," said Paul Helmke, President of the
Brady Center. "We urge policymakers to take action now to get these
weapons off the streets."
The Brady Center report is entitled Mass Produced Mayhem, a phrase used
by federal law enforcement officials to describe the guns back in 1994.
The report is available online at
Over the past four years, the Brady Center has tracked available news
coverage of hundreds of incidents to prepare the report. The incidents
on the list involved weapons banned under the expired federal act as
well as copycat and similar models that would be banned under proposed
stronger legislation. The analysis makes a compelling case that
federal policymakers should again ban military-style assault weapons.
"This is a very cautious estimate of the injuries and deaths inflicted
with assault weapons since the 1994 law expired," said Brian J. Siebel,
the author of the report. "It only includes incidents covered by the
news media. The danger that our communities face from these weapons
likely is far worse than this report indicates."
The victim list of those killed with assault weapons since the federal
ban expires runs the gamut from grandmothers to young children to
decorated police officers:
- Stephen Liczbinski, a 12-year veteran of the Philadelphia
Police Department, executed in May by bank robbery suspects just days
short of his 40th birthday. He left a wife, Michelle, and three
children, Matt, Stephen and Amber.
- Vicky Armel, 40, the Fairfax County, Virginia police
veteran who was the mother of two girls, five and seven, when she and
officer Michael Garbarino lost their lives on May 2006. She
volunteered at her church and decorated the local school gym at the
holidays. The shooter: Michael Kennedy, an 18-year-old mental patient
whose mother helped him practice firing his AK-47 assault rifle and
whose father supplied him with marijuana.
- Siretha White of Chicago died of stray assault weapon fire
that came through the windows of her aunt's house, where she was at her
own surprise birthday party on March 11, 2006 just days before her 11th
birthday. Siretha loved acting and excelled as a fifth grader at Vernon
Johns Community Academy. She also loved jumping rope, basketball and
boxing with her brother. "I have lost my precious ‘Nugget' to a deadly
assault weapon that had no business being in my neighborhood," said
Siretha's mother, Siretha Woods. "She would be alive today but for the
deadliness of these weapons."
- Janet Jorgensen, 68, mother of three and grandmother of
eight, who had just celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary when she
was gunned down in the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska during the
Christmas shopping season in December 2007. At St. James Catholic
Church, the crowd for her funeral was standing room only. Robert
Hawkins, 19, killed eight before committing suicide.
THE LAST FIREWALL AGAINST THE LIES
Independent media has become the last firewall against government and corporate lies. Yet, with frightening regularity, independent media sources are losing funding, closing down or being blacked out by Google and Facebook. Never before has independent media been more endangered. If you believe in Common Dreams, if you believe in people-powered independent media, please support our critical Winter campaign now and help us fight—with truths—against the lies that would smother our democracy. Please help keep Common Dreams alive and growing.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is a national non-profit organization working to reduce the tragic toll of gun violence in America, through education, research, and legal advocacy. The programs of the Brady Center complement the legislative and grassroots mobilization of its sister organization, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence with its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters.