These 10 States Have Taken Away The Right To Own “Assault-Style Weapons”

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In the ongoing debate on gun control in the United States, bans on assault weapons in several states have struck up significant controversy. These laws, which are aimed to limit access to military-style firearms among civilians, have become a heated point between advocacy for public safety and the defense of constitutional rights.

Both critics and supporters put forth an array of arguments, present statistics and emotional appeals, making the discussion around these bans as multifaceted as it is heated. The conversation extends beyond policy, touching the very core of American values and societal safety, making it a polarizing yet crucial debate in the nation’s quest to reconcile freedom with security.


After the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in 2012, Connecticut extended its assault weapons ban, which originally went into effect in 1993. 

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The legislation now includes bans on the sale of over 150 specific assault weapons and limits high-capacity magazines to 10 rounds. Opponents of the ban make the argument that it hinders freedoms of law-abiding citizens and question the effectiveness of such measures in preventing gun violence.


The ban on assault-style weapons in California started in 1989, making it one of the first states to implement this type of legislation.

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California prohibits the possession, manufacture, sale, or import of firearms with certain features, including rifles, shotguns, and pistols.


Assault weapons bans were enacted in Delaware in 2022, the law includes restrictions on possession, manufacture, sale, transfer, and receipt of assault-style weapons.

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Opponents of the ban state that it violates individuals constitutional rights and suggest that it does not directly address issues related to gun crime and mass shootings.


Hawaii has had a ban on the possession, manufacture, sale, or transfer of assault-style weapons since 1992, with restrictions that typically are applied to pistols.

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The state’s remote geography is often blamed for the reason it has such strict gun control laws. However, critics make the argument that this ban negatively affects rural farmers and hunters. 


Maryland’s legislation was signed into law in 2013, the ban includes the sale or transfer of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

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The law allows those who possessed this style fire-arm prior to the ban to keep them, a compromise opponents argue does very little to address existing weapons while infringing on new purchases.


Illinois’ ban on assault-style weapons went into effect in 2023, targeting possession, manufacture, sale, and purchase.

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Critics of the ban highlight the low compliance rates among existing gun owners and raise concerns about the effectiveness of the law in reducing gun violence, suggesting that it instead imposes undue burdens on lawful gun owners.


Since 1998, Massachusetts has had what is considered to be one of the strictest assault weapons policies.

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The law restricts the sale of weapons and high-capacity magazines beyond 10 rounds. Critics claim that the extensive licensing requirements and paperwork discourages lawful gun ownership without providing clear benefits to public safety.

New York

New York enacted the In Firearms Enforcement Act as a response to the mass shooting in Buffalo, included in the law is the ban of private sale of assault weapons.

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The law has been criticized for its possible impact on upstate residents, who are generally in opposition of gun control measures. 

New Jersey

New Jersey has had a ban on  assault firearms since 1990, and it was reinforced in 2018. The ban required those who already owned these types of firearms to register them. 

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Critics make the argument that the requirement for registration and the possibility of facing felony charges for non-compliance are punitive measures that infringe on individual rights.


Washington has tightened down on its restrictions in recent years, this  includes a ban on the sale or transfer of semi-automatic rifles with at least one military-style feature.

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Critics contend that these definitions lack consistency and that the restrictions infringe on the rights of gun owners. 

Prior Ownership Of Firearms

Bans on assault weapons don’t typically address the large number of firearms that are already out there.

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Legislation that allows existing owners to keep their assault weapons does very little to reduce the overall number in public hands. Opponents make the argument that without systems to  reduce the existing stockpile, new bans have limited impact on gun violence.

Lacking Clear Definition

The term “assault weapon”lacks clear definition, making bans even more difficult to enforce on a consistent basis. Laws often focus on the cosmetic features rather than functionalities that impact a firearm’s lethality.

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This ambiguity can lead to legal loopholes where functionally similar firearms remain legal due to minor differences in appearance.

Call For Focus On The Root Cause 

Restrictions that target certain types of  firearms do not address the root causes of gun violence. Issues such as mental health issues, economic disparities, and societal factors. 

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Critics contest that focusing on weapon types deters attention and resources from more effective violence prevention measures. 

Challenges With Non-compliance And Enforcement 

The effectiveness of bans on assault weapons is compromised by the lack of compliance and enforcement. In jurisdictions with strict gun laws, there are reports that show low registration rates for these kinds of firearms.

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The challenge with tracking non-compliant owners and the resources required for enforcement only complicate the application of these laws. 

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Athena Hallet

Written by Athena Hallet

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