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Good Question: How Many People Are Killed By Assault Rifles?

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Since the massacre at a Newtown elementary school, much of the discussion on gun violence has been around a proposal to reinstate the assault weapons ban.

During his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama discussed it, saying “Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned.”

But how many people are killed by assault weapons in the U.S. as compared to other weapons?

According to the Minnesota report to the FBI in 2011, the last year there is Uniform Crime Report Data, three people were murdered with a rifle of any type. The report does not break rifle murders into “assault” rifles.

Four died in fist fights, 12 by knife and 51 by handguns in Minnesota in 2011.

Monday night’s shooting in Oakdale, Minn., which killed a 9-year-old boy, was committed using a semi-automatic handgun, according to police. The Accent Signage shooter killed five and then himself with a 9 mm Glock handgun.

The same story plays out across the nation. Of the 12,664 murders in 2011 reported to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, 6,220 were committed with handguns — about 49 percent of the total report.

By comparison, killers used a rifle on 323 people, 2.5 percent of all murders. Assault rifle murders aren’t split out, but it’s safe to assume it’s less than the 323.

Most put the number of assault weapon murders as between 1 and 2 percent of all murders.

In 2011, knives were used in 1,694 murders. Fists and feet were used in 728 murders, and blunt objects –like clubs, bats and hammers – were used in 496 murders.

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