Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Smita Rahman

Second Advisor

David Gellman

Third Advisor

Jeff Dunn


This paper has three chapters. The first details the Assault Weapons Ban and what led to its passage in 1994. It goes through the different provisions and exemptions in the ban. This chapter analyzes the impact that the ban had on crime, gun violence, government spending, and electoral politics. The chapter then details why the ban failed to pass again in 2004 and the resulting impact. The second chapter analyzes the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the shooting’s role in the gun control debate. This chapter looks at why the Assault Weapons Ban failed to pass in 2013 and the responses from legislators and organizations. There is a closer look at the National Rifle Association’s role in the failure to pass gun control legislation. The third chapter studies the entrenchment of gun ownership as a political identity. This chapter looks at how political identities are formed and the impact that the identities have. This chapter analyzes how entrenchment of the gun ownership identity leads to more polarization and perpetuates the failure to pass gun control. The aim of this paper is to explain why gun control was able to pass in 1994 but has failed to pass since.