EMBARGOED UNTIL 5 P.M.                                        NIJ
FRIDAY, MARCH 28, 1997                             (202) 514-2008
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888
          More Time Needed to Assess Long-Term Impact

     WASHINGTON, DC -- According to a study of short-term trends
since the 1994 assault weapons ban became law, the ban may be
linked to declines in the criminal use of assault weapons, violent
crime and the number of enforcement officers killed by assault
weapons.  The study, prepared by the Urban Institute for the
Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ), was
required by statute to be conducted within 30 months following the
enactment of the assault weapons ban as part of President Clinton's
1994 Crime Act. The report's authors warned that more time was
needed to determine the long-term impact of the ban. 
     The assault weapons ban prohibits the manufacture, transfer
and possession of designated semiautomatic assault weapons.  Also
prohibited are "large-capacity" magazines -- ammunition feeding
devices designed to hold more than 10 rounds.  Weapons included are
Aks, UZIs, AK-15 rifles, TECs and MA handguns.  The assault weapons
ban took effect on September 13, 1994.

     During the course of the 18 month study, Urban Institute
researchers identified and examined several key indicators,
including the use and consequences of assault weapons in crime. 
Researchers examined the number of times law enforcement agencies
across the country requested that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms trace the origins of assault weapons seized by local
law enforcement.  Initial examinations of trace requests showed a
20 percent drop in requests for assault weapons compared to an 11
percent drop in such requests for all guns. 

     States with no assault weapons ban when the federal ban took
effect also experienced a 10.3% decline in homicides, compared to
no decline (0.1%) in states with assault weapons bans.  It also
appears that only one police officer is known to have been killed
with an assault weapon during the period from June 1995 to May
1996, compared to seven from January to May 1995, and nine in 1994.

     The report concluded that the legislatively mandated review
period was both too short and too close to the beginning of the
assault weapons ban to adequately judge the ban's effect on street
violence.  The 1994 law applies only to weapons manufactured after
the enactment, requiring any attempt to study the ban to factor in
the large number of "grandfathered" weapons, many of which were
manufactured and purchased prior to the enactment of the ban. 
These "grandfathered" weapons continue in circulation.

     The report, "Impact Evaluation of the Public Safety and
Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994," was written by
Jeffrey A. Roth of the Urban Institute and Christopher S. Koper of
the University of Maryland.  Information about NIJ, its programs
and publications, may be obtained from the National Criminal
Justice Reference Service by calling toll-free 1-800/851-3420, or
by visiting the NCJRS home page on the Internet at
http://www.ncjrs.gov/.  NIJ's home page on the Internet is