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Federal Laws and Legislation on Highly Lethal Weapons

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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.

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 secure 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.

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Source of Federal Assault Weapons Laws and Legislation

  1. NPR