San Francisco's 1993 Mass Shooting Inspired National Assault Weapons Ban

The New York Times article, on July 2, 1993, began, “San Francisco — A gunman carrying hundreds of rounds of ammunition terrorized a high-rise office building in the financial district here late this afternoon, killing eight people and wounding six others with a hail of automatic and semiautomatic fire before shooting himself to death.”

The highrise was 101 California St. The gunman was 55-year-old Gian Luigi Ferri. And the bullets were fired from two TEC-9 handguns modified with a special trigger that allowed it to shoot faster. It was the worst mass killing in city history.

As Friday's massacre in Newtown, Conn. brings the gun control debate to the forefront, that 1993 shooting serves as an example of how high-profile gun violence can spur national policy change. It also shows how that change can erode as time dulls a tragedy's impact.

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