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Federal Assault Weapons Laws and Legislation

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What is the “Assault Weapons Ban”?

In 1994, Congress passed the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, commonly referred to as the “Assault Weapons Ban.” This law prohibited the manufacture or sale for civilian use of certain semi-automatic weapons and magazines that could accommodate 10 rounds or more.1 Notably, Congress authorized the legislation for 10 years. When Congress did not renew it in 2004, the Act expired.

On March 11, 2021, Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the Assault Weapons Ban Act, H.R. 1808 to reinstate the assault weapons ban. Then, the House of Representatives passed the legislation by a vote of 217-213 on July 29, 2022. The House and the Senate reintroduced the bill this session as the Assault Weapons Ban of 2023 (S. 25 / H.R. 698).

What Does the Assault Weapons Ban Act Do?

In brief, the Assault Weapons Ban Act includes several provisions to limit access to certain semi-automatic rifles.

  • Describes the kinds of semiautomatic firearms that count as assault weapons.
  • Also defines and restricts large capacity ammunition feeding devices.
  • Outlines restrictions on the manufacturing, sale, ownership or transfer of these firearms and ammunition devices with certain exceptions.
  • Requires a date to be printed on any prohibited firearms or ammunition feeding devices made after the law is enacted.
  • Sets out rules for the safe storage and transfer of any firearms or devices regulated by the law that were owned prior to its passage.
  • Additionally, provides for an optional “buy-back” program.

How Can I Take Action on This Legislation?

Sign our petition to urge Congress to take action on assault-style firearms.

Join us! Let’s Continue Our Gun Violence Prevention Action.

There’s more work to be done. You can be a part of finding bipartisan solutions to keep our children and communities safe from gun violence. Our shared mission and team effort relies on your relentless energy and support. If you engage with your community and legislators, then together we can continue to get commonsense gun violence prevention solutions across the finish line. Let’s keep the momentum going! You can help by finding out more about the Sandy Hook Action Fund.

Source of Federal Assault Weapons Laws and Legislation

  1. NPR