But crime trends over the past few decades offer a mixed verdict on whether renewing the ban would reduce the kinds of mass shootings that have spurred calls for its re-enactment in the first place.

Data published earlier this year showed that while the ban was in place, from 1994 to 2004, the number of mass shootings actually rose slightly during that period.

Add to that the fact that most gun crimes in America are committed with handguns, and the gun lobby enters this debate with some potent statistics. …

At the same time, gun control advocates note that modest decreases in assault-weapon crimes were recorded during the ban. A revived version won’t stop gun crime in America, but, advocates argue, it could spare some lives from the violence on America’s streets, in its schools and in its homes.