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The 1994 Clinton Crime Bill's Firearm Provisions

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Clinton Gun Ban Update
On Monday, September 13, 2004 the Clinton gun ban expired. Below are links to information from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) clarifying the changes to federal law.

  • Open Letter to Federally Licensed Firearms Importers and Registered Importers of U.S. Munitions Import List Articles [HTML][PDF] (9/13/04)

  • Semiautomatic Assault Weapon (SAW) Ban – Questions and Answers [HTML][PDF] (9/13/04)

  • Changes in Federal Law As Of September 13, 2004 Relating to Semiautomatic Assault Weapons (SAWs) and Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Devices (LCAFDs) [HTML][PDF] (9/13/04)

  • President Clinton signed the 1994 federal Crime Bill into law on Sept. 13, 1994, including the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which made it a federal crime for a private individual to possess or transfer (sell, give, etc.) a "semiautomatic assault weapon" (AW) manufactured after that date. [18 U.S.C. 922(v)]. AWs manufactured on or before that date, and legally within the U.S., are "grandfathered" (not banned). Government agencies and their agents (the military, police departments, etc.) are exempt from the law. The law requires that AWs manufactured after Sept. 13, 1994 be stamped with their date of manufacture. Regulations require that AWs made after that date be stamped "Restricted Law Enforcement/ Government Use Only." These provisions are scheduled to expire on Sept. 13, 2004.

    Most firearms defined as AWs by the ban were already banned under other laws. Foreign rifles such as the AK-47 and Uzi were banned from importation in 1989, under federal firearms importation law [18 USC 925(d)(3)]. The Unsoeld Amendment of 1990 [18 922(r)] banned using imported gun parts to assemble the same guns in the United States. In 1993, "assault pistols" like the Uzi Pistol were banned under the importation law. In February 1994, revolving cylinder shotguns (Street Sweeper and Striker-12) were banned under the National Firearms Act. When the Clinton ban expires, these guns will remain banned under these other laws. However, the Clinton ban defines "semiautomatic assault weapon" to include these guns as well as others. The definitions [18 U.S.C. 921(a)(30)] are:

    • Any of the firearms, or copies or duplicates of the firearms in any caliber, known as: Norinco, Mitchell, Poly Technologies Avtomat Kalashnikovs (all models); Action Arms I.M.I. UZI and Galil; Beretta AR-70 (SC70); Colt AR-15; Fabrique Nationale FN-FAL/LAR, and FNC; SWD M-10, M-11, M-11/9, and M-12; Steyr AUG; Intratec TEC-9, TEC-DC9, and TEC-22; and revolving cylinder shotguns, such as (or similar to) the Street Sweeper and Striker 12;
    • A semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following: a folding or telescoping stock; a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; a bayonet mount; a flash suppressor or threaded barrel; and a grenade launcher [included to scare people, since grenades and launchers are restricted by the National Firearms Act];
    • A semiautomatic pistol that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following: an ammunition magazine that attaches to the pistol outside of the pistol grip; a threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer; a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the nontrigger hand without being burned; a manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded; and a semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm; and
    • A semiautomatic shotgun that has at least two of the following: a folding or telescoping stock; a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; a fixed magazine in excess of five rounds; and an ability to accept a detachable magazine.

    "Large capacity ammunition feeding devices." The Clinton ban also prohibits a private individual from possessing a "large capacity ammunition feeding device," defined as "a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device . . . that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition; but does not include an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition." Those manufactured on or before Sept. 13, 1994, including those made outside the U.S., are not defined as "devices" and are legal to possess, transfer and import. Those manufactured after that date must be stamped to indicate the date of manufacture. The law places the "burden of proof" upon the government, not the individual, in the event of a criminal charge relating to possession of a "device."

    Banning guns because of attachments. Under the ban, various firearms are defined as AWs because they have more than one attachment listed in the ban. Consider the two AR-15s below. The ban says that the one on the left is an AW, because it has a flash suppressor on the end of the barrel and a bayonet mount under the front sight. The attachments have nothing to do with crime and, as the illustrations show, the distinction between the two rifles is superficial.

    AR-15 with pistol grip,
    flash suppressor and bayonet mount.
    AR-15 with pistol grip only

    AR-15s such as those pictured above are the center-fire rifles most commonly used for marksmanship competitions in America. Hundreds of thousands of AR-15s have been made and sold since the ban took effect. Meanwhile, violent crime has declined every year since 1991 and the nation's violent crime rate is now at a 27-year low. Congress' study of the ban found "the banned weapons and magazines were never used in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders," and that the magazine limit isn't a factor in multiple-victim or multiple-wound crimes. A follow-up study found "gunshot injury incidents involving pistols [which use magazines] were less likely to produce a death than were those involving revolvers" and "the average number of wounds for pistol victims was actually lower than that for revolver victims." Police reports and federal felon surveys have always shown AWs used in only 1%-2% of violent crimes. Crime victim surveys indicate the figure is only 0.25%. Murders with knives, clubs and hands outnumber those with AWs by over 20-to-1. (For more information, see the Clinton Gun Ban Fact Sheet.)

    "Armor-piercing ammunition." A 1986 law prohibited the manufacture or importation of "armor piercing ammunition," defined as "a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium." The 1994 crime bill added to the definition, "a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile."

    Federal Firearm Licensees. The law requires an FFL applicant to submit fingerprints and photographs to BATFE; notify his chief local law enforcement officer of the application; and certify that the business to be conducted is not prohibited by state or local law, that no business will be conducted until in compliance with state and local laws, and that such laws will be complied with within 30 days after approval of the FFL. FFLs must report to BATFE and local law enforcement authorities the theft or loss of a gun within 48 hours and respond within 24 hours to a BATFE request for information about the disposition of guns related to a criminal investigation. BATFE must notify state and local law enforcement authorities of the names and addresses of persons to whom FFLs are issued, and may inspect licensees' records during a criminal investigation. The law extends to 60 days the period BATFE has to act on applications.

    Restrictions relating to juveniles. The law prohibits the transfer to, or possession by, a juvenile (person under age 18), of a handgun or handgun ammunition, with exceptions for employment, target practice, hunting, firearms training, service with the Armed Forces or National Guard, in defense against an intruder at the residence of the juvenile or a residence in which the juvenile is an invited guest, and other circumstances with prior written consent of the juvenile's parent or guardian.

    Enhanced penalties. The 1994 Crime Bill imposed a 10-year imprisonment penalty on a person who, "during in and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime (including a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime which provides for an enhanced punishment if committed by the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon or device) for which he may be prosecuted in a court of the United States," uses or carries a "semiautomatic assault weapon." This penalty is imposed on top of the penalty for the violent or drug trafficking crime. Second and subsequent convictions for carrying or using a "semiautomatic assault weapon" during such a crime are punishable by 20 years imprisonment. [18 U.S.C. 924(c)]

    Other federal laws affecting "assault weapons" and other semi-automatic firearms. 18 U.S.C. 925(d)(3), imposed by the GCA and later amended, requires the Treasury Secretary to approve for importation any firearm "generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes," with exceptions. BATF has regulatory authority to interpret the provision.

    In early 1989, following a crime committed with an imported semi-automatic rifle, BATF suspended importation of 43 makes and models of foreign-made semi-automatic rifles (all previously approved for importation), pending a review of their eligibility for importation. BATF concluded that "Assault Type Rifles" were no longer eligible for importation due to their having a folding or telescoping stock, an angled pistol grip, a bayonet lug, a flash suppressor, etc. BATF found insignificant the fact that comparable rifles have been used for a half century in formal target shooting competitions, such as the NRA National Championships and the Civilian Marksmanship Program National Matches. Manufacturers and importers removed the attachments and BATF approved the modified rifles for importation.

    In 1998, President Clinton ordered BATF to suspend importation of about 50 models of modified rifles. Treasury and BATF later issued a report asserting that "Large Capacity Military Magazine" rifles were ineligible for importation because they use such magazines. In 2000, BATF prohibited importation of repair and replacement parts for the guns.

    In 1993, BATF reinterpreted the importation provision to prohibit importation of "assault pistols." In 1994, the Secretary of the Treasury placed the Street Sweeper and Striker-12 revolving cylinder shotguns, and the USAS-12 semi-automatic shotgun, under the National Firearms Act. Also in 1994, President Clinton, by Executive Order, banned importation of firearms and ammunition from Red China, then a major exporter of AK-47-type semi-automatic rifles.

    18 U.S.C. 922(r), imposed in 1990, prohibits "assembling from imported parts any semi-automatic rifle or any shotgun which is identical to any rifle or shotgun prohibited from importation." BATF's regulation [178.39, Commerce in Firearms] prohibits using more than 10 "imported parts," from a list of 20 parts, such as trigger, hammer, barrel, etc. (BATF had proposed prohibiting using more than two imported parts.) The provision was adopted to prohibit restoring modified rifles to pre-law configuration after importation.

    A Partial List Of Firearms Classified as "Assault Weapons"

    1. AO-9 Assault Pistol
    2. AA Arms AR9 Rifle
    3. American Arms AKY39 Rifle
    4. American Arms AKF39 Rifle
    5. American 180
    6. AMT Lightning 25 Rifle
    7. Anschutz Deluxe Model 520/61
    8. AR-10 Semi-Auto Rifle
    9. Armalite AR-180 Sporter Carbine
    10. Armscor Model 1600
    11. Armscor AK-22
    12. Armscorp M-l4 Semi-Auto Rifle
    13. Australian Automatic Arms SAR
    14. Australian Automatic Arms SAC
    15. Australian Automatic Arms SAP
    16. Australian Automatic Arms SP
    Hunting Rifle
    17. Australian Automatic Arms SP20
    Hunting Rifle
    18. Australian LlA1 FAL
    19. Auto-Ordnance Mod 1927A-3
    20. Auto-Ordnance 1927-A5 Pistol
    21. Barrett Light-Fifty
    22. Benelli M1 Super 90 Defense Shotgun
    23. Benelli M3 Super 90 Shotgun
    24. Beretta AR-70 Sporter
    25. Beretta SC-70 Carbine
    26. Bushmaster Auto Rifle
    27. Bushmaster Rifle
    28. Bushmaster Auto Pistol
    29. Bushmaster XM-15
    30. Calico Model 100 Carbine
    31. Calico Model 110 Pistol
    32. Calico Model 900 Carbine
    33. Calico Model 950 Pistol
    34. Calico Model 951 Tactical Carbine
    35. CETME Rifle
    36. Clayco AKS Rifle
    37. Claridge Hi-Tec pistol
    38. Cobray M-11
    39. Cobray M-11/9
    40. Cobray 9mm Carbine
    41. Cobray M-12
    42. Colt AR-15
    43. Colt AR-15A2 Carbine
    44. Colt AR-15A2 HBAR
    45. Colt AR-15 A2 Delta HBAR
    46. Colt Match Delta HBAR
    47. Colt Sporter Lightweight
    48. Colt Sporter Target
    49. Daewoo AR110C
    50. Daewoo AR100
    51. Demro TAC-1 Carbine
    52. Demro XF-7 Carbine
    53. D-Max Auto Pistol
    54. Eagle Arms EA-15 Action Master
    55. Eagle Arms EA-15 Auto Rifle
    56. Eagle Arms EA-15 E1 Carbine
    57. Eagle Arms EA-15 E2 Carbine
    58. Eagle Arms EA-15 E2 HBAR
    59. Eagle Arms EA-15 Golden Eagle
    60. Essential Arms J-15
    61. XM Z31S Semi-Auto Pistol
    62. Egyptian Maadi AKM

    63. Egyptian Maadi Thumbhole AKM
    64. EMF AP-74
    65. Encom Mk IV
    66. FAMAS Semi-Auto Rifle
    67. Feather AT-9 Carbine
    68. Feather AT-22
    69. Feather Mini-AT
    70. Feather SAR-180 Carbine
    71. Federal Model XC-220
    72. Federal XC900 Pistol
    73. Federal SC450 Plstol
    74. Federal Ord M-14 Rifle
    75. Fabrique Nationale Model FNC
    76. Fabrique Nationale "G" Series LAR
    77. Fabrique Nationale LAR Match
    78. Fabrique Nationale LAR Model 50-64
    79. Fabrique Nationale LAR Model 50-63
    80. Franchi LAW 12 Shotgun
    81. Franchi SPAS 12 Shotgun
    82. Galil AR
    83. Galil ARM
    84. Galil Sniper Rifle
    85. Galil Sporter
    86. Goncz High-Tech Carbine
    87. Goncz High-Tech Long Pistol
    88. Grendel P-31 Auto Carbine
    89. Heckler & Koch PSG-1 Marksman
    90. Heckler & Koch 91
    91. Heckler & Koch 93
    92. Heckler & Koch 94
    93. Heckler & Koch SP89
    94. Holmes MP-22
    95. Holmes MP-38
    96. Holmes MP-83
    97. Intratec Scorpion
    98. Intratec TEC 9
    99. Intratec TEC DC9
    100. Intratec TEC 22
    101. Israeli FALs
    102. Iver Johnson Enforcer Model 3000
    103. Iver Johnson PM30HB Carbine
    104. Kassnar SA 85M AKM
    105. Kassnar SA 85M Thumbhole AKM
    106. MAC-10 Semi-Auto
    107. MAC-11 Semi-Auto
    108. Mitchell AKM
    109. Mitchell AK-22
    110. Mitchell Galil/22
    111. Mitchell Heavy Barrel AKM
    112. Mitchell MAS-22
    113. Mitchell M-1622
    114. Mitchell M-76 Counter Sniper Rifle
    115. M1 Carbine with folding stock
    116. Norinco MAK 90 Rifle
    117. Norinco MAK 91 Legend Rifle
    118. Norinco Officer's Nine Carbine
    119. Norinco RPK Rifle
    120. Norinco Type 81S Rifle
    121. Norinco Type 81 MGS Rifle
    122. Norinco Type 84S AK
    123. Norinco Type 86S Bullpup
    124. Norinco Type 86S-7 Rifle
    125. Norinco Type 88SB Rifle
    126. Olympic Arms CAR 9
    127. Olympic Arms CAR-15
    128. Olympic Arms CAR-40

    129. Olympic Arms CAR-45
    130. Olymplc Arms CAR-310
    131. Olympic Arms K4 AR-15 Rifle
    132. PAC West AR-15 type
    133. Partisan Avenger
    134. Poly Technologies AK-47/S
    135. Poly Technologies AKS-762
    136. Poly Tech' AKS-76S Down Folder
    137. Poly Tech' AKS-76S Side Folder
    138. Poly Technologies M-14/S
    139. Poly Technologies RPKS-74
    140. Ruger Mini-14 with folding stock
    141. Scarab Skorpion Pistol
    142. Sendra AR-15 type
    143. SIG AMT
    144. SIG PE-57
    145. SIG SG 5552 SP Rifle
    146. SIG SG 550-2 SP Carbine
    147. Smith Enterprises M-14 Semi-Auto
    148. Spectre Carbine
    149. Spectre DA Pistol
    150. Springfield Armory SAR-3
    151. Springfield Armory SAR 48 Standard
    152. Springfield Arm. SAR 48 Bush Rifle
    153. Springfield Armory SAR 8 H-Bbl.
    154. Springfield Armory SAR 8 Para
    155. Springfield Armory SAR 4800
    156. Springfield Arm. M1A Basic Model
    157. Springfield Arm. M1A Standard Rifle
    158. Springfield Arm. M1A Nat'l Match
    159. Springfield Arm. MlA Super Match
    160. Springfield Arm. M1A-A1 Bush Rifle
    161. Springfield Armory BM-59 Italian
    162. Springfield Armory BM-59 Alpine
    163. Springfield Arm. BM-59 Alpine Para
    164. Springfield Armory BM-59 Nigerian
    165. Springfield Armory M-21
    166. Sterling Carbine
    167. Steyr AUG SA
    168. Street Sweeper Shotgun*
    169. Striker 12 SE-12 Shotgun*
    170. SVD Tiger Rifle
    171. Universal 100 Carbine
    172. USAS-12 Auto
    173. Uzi Carbine
    174. Uzi Pistol
    175. Mini Uzi
    176. Valmet M-62/S Rifle
    177. Valmet M-71/S Rifle
    178. Valmet M-76 Standard Rifle
    179. Valmet M-76 Rifle
    180. Valmet M-82 Bullpup Rifle
    181. Weaver Arms Nighthawk
    182. Wilkinson Terry Carbine
    * Revolving cylinder, not semi-auto

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