BALTIMORE - In 1994 a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons was signed into legislation. The ban made it unlawful to manufacture, transfer or possess several types of semiautomatic weapons.
Included in the ban were 19 named firearms, as well as semiautomatic pistols, shotguns and rifles with certain criteria. Exceptions to the ban were semiautomatic weapons used by law enforcement and those purchased prior to September 14, 1994.
Ten years later, in 2004, the ban expired. Now, as we close in on 2013, a trip to a gun retailer of a quick search of their website will reveal there are just as many semiautomatic weapons on the market as those with other action types. It's a topic that has gotten attention recent years by lawmakers and has been a hot topic of debate.
After the elementary school shooting in Connecticut Friday that claimed the lives of 20 children, there's arguably more pressure on gun control that ever. While there a both Republican and Democratic leaders that agree something must be done, they also agree it is something that can be "complex."
According to ABC News, record-setting numbers have signed online petitions urging that the federal government take action to halt gun violence in the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. A group calling itself Newtown United sent delegation to DC Tuesday, and hundreds of people marched from Capitol Hill to the National Rifle Association's DC office on Monday.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined victims of gun violence to address the issue of how easy it is to get access to guns.
Even some longtime supporters of gun rights like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin say it's time to talk about regulating guns. He says he's open to discussing restrictions of assault weapons like the one used in the Newtown shooting.
President Obama is pledging action to prevent more tragedies and to save future children.
While White House spokesman Jay Carney says gun control is not the only solution to stopping shootings, he admits it is part of the solution – what's been described as a comprehensive solution.
"What choice do we have?" said President Obama at a memorial service held Sunday in memory of those killed in the Connecticut shooting. "Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?"
The gun control debate is expected to return to Annapolis when lawmakers head back to work in January for the new session. Some legislators are calling for an all-out ban on assault weapons in Maryland.
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Top 10 questions on gun control from the ATF