Lake County State Attorney Eric Rinehart called for a nationwide ban on assault weapons after a mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, left at least seven people dead on July 4.
Rinehart made the plea to action after announcing charges against the shooting suspect in a press conference held Tuesday near the location of the shooting.
After praising the state’s existing red flag laws, Rinehart said “we should also ban assault weapons in Illinois and beyond.”
The state attorney pointed to the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that Congress passed in 1994 and expired ten years later as an example of a piece of legislation that should be implemented.
“We should have that same ban in Illinois and beyond, in the entire country,” he said.
Under the state’s red flag law that has been in effect since 2019, known as the Firearms Restraining Order Act, family members and law enforcement can request a judge to take away a firearm from a person who “poses a danger” to themselves or others. In some cases, a judge can also be petitioned to take away an individual’s state permit to own a gun.
The July 4 shooting showed the limitations of the state law, however, according to a report from Chicago Tribune.
Although law enforcement previously received several warnings about the shooting suspect, including an attempted suicide in April 2019, no complaints had been made against the individual by the family, the report said. The suspect also did not have a gun permit that could be revoked at the time.
The effectiveness of the 1994 federal ban is difficult to measure, in part because the law only lasted for a decade and because there’s no settled definition of what is a “mass shooting” or an “assault weapon,” according to The Washington Post.
When the Justice Department conducted a study into the impacts of the law in 2004, it found that the results were, at best, mixed due to several exemptions in the ban.
However, a 2020 study by George Mason University professor Christopher S. Koper later found evidence that mass shootings may have increased shortly after the ban expired.
“The law’s significant exemptions ensured that its full effects would occur only gradually over time, and those effects were still unfolding at the time it expired,” Koper wrote.