One early focus of new gun regulations by President Barack Obama and some lawmakers would reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons, a law widely regarded as imperfect.
The ban existed for 10 years until 2004. It would have made it illegal for the young gunman in Connecticut to use the 30-round magazines that allowed him to shoot so many elementary school students before he reloaded.
But the ban and other U.S. gun laws wouldn't have prevented his mother's purchase of the powerful assault rifle or the especially deadly ammunition that he used to kill 26 people.
A generation of U.S. gun laws -- and the inherent compromises intended to balance constitutional rights and public safety -- reflects the intricacies of applying government policy to stem acts of mass violence.
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