Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act
In 1994, President Clinton signed the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, also known as the Assault Weapons Ban.
The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, also known as the Assault Weapons Ban, prohibited the manufacture, transfer, and civilian ownership of assault-style rifles, listed manufacturers by name, and magazines that held more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The law passed by a 52-48 vote in the Senate. The Act included a “sunset provision,” a compromise that meant it would automatically be repealed after a decade unless renewed by the sitting Congress in 2004.
In 2004, Congress failed to renew the Act. Research shows that while the ban was effective at preventing mass shootings, rates of handgun violence remained essentially unchanged. The original bill also included many loopholes. For example, the provisions did not entirely ban assault weapons; some older models were initially legal under the ban. Once the law expired, the production and distribution of these firearms became legal again.