Obama and other lawmakers have called for a revival of the assault weapons ban, which would bar rifles like the AR-15 used by Adam Lanza. So would an assault weapons ban drastically reduce US gun deaths?
The answer is no – to a first approximation. The chart above shows that only 2.75% of homicides were caused by rifles in 2010.
More people were killed with "hands, fists, and feet" than with assault rifles, notes conservative pundit Timothy Carney, who created the chart. Carney notes that massacres often employ semi-authomatic weapons - " which make killing large numbers of people much easier. But massacres are very, very rare compared to isolated homicides.
What the numbers do suggest is that banning handguns would really put a dent in the murder rate. Handguns accounted for 46% of all homicides in 2010. But a handgun ban hasn't been on the legislative table for decades.