Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act

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US Firearms Legal Topics:
Assault weapons ban
Brady Handgun Act
BATFE (law enforcement)
Firearm case law
Gun Control Act of 1968
Gun politics in the US
Gun Control (in USA by state)
National Firearms Act
2nd Amendment
Straw purchase
Sullivan Act (New York)
Violent Crime Control Act

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (1994) is a piece of legislation, passed by the US Congress, which expanded Federal law in several ways. Its most famous provision banned the manufacture of 19 specific semi-automatic "assault weapons" as well as many others defined by cosmetic features. This law also banned possession of newly manufactured magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Other provisions of the law included a greatly expanded Federal death penalty, new classes of individual banned from possessing firearms, and a variety of new and federal offenses, in areas such as immigration law, hate crimes, sex offenses, and gang-related crime.


Assault Weapons Ban

Main article: Federal assault weapons ban (USA)

Title XI, subtitle A, known as the Assault Weapons Ban, outlawed the manufacture of any semiautomatic rifle that is capable of accepting a detachable magazine with capacity greater than ten rounds, AND which has two or more of the following features:

  • A folding or telescoping stock
  • A pistol grip
  • A flash suppressor
  • A grenade launcher
  • A bayonet lug

This section took effect September 13, 1994, and expired automatically through a sunset provision on September 13, 2004.

The National Rifle Association argues that the ban violates the Constitution's 2nd Amendment. (See Firearm case law).

It should be noted that these features are purely cosmetic; none increase the lethality of a weapon (grenades, being explosives, are already heavily regulated and restricted, and any long gun with a folding/telescoping stock still must have a minimum length of 26 inches). An AR-15, which is an "assault weapon," functions identically to any .223 semiautomatic hunting rifle, such as non-folding stock Mini-14, which (by the explicit listing of the only the folding stock variant) was defined as not being an "assault weapon".

Death Penalty

Title VI, the Federal Death Penalty Act, created several new death penalty offenses, including crimes related to drug dealing, drive-by shootings which result in death, civil-rights related murders, murder of a Federal law enforment officer, and acts of terrorism or the use of weapons of mass destruction which result in death.

The 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing occurred a few months after this law came into effect; The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 was passed in response, further increasing the federal death penalty. In 2001, Timothy McVeigh was executed for the murder of 8 federal law enforcement agents under this title.

Violence Against Women Act

Title IV, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), allocated $1.6B to help prevent and investigate violence against women. VAWA was renewed in 2000. This includes the Safe Streets for Women Act which increases federal penalties for repeat sex offenders and also requires mandatory restitution for the medical and legal costs of sex crimes. The Safe Homes for Women Act increases Federal grants for battered women's shelters, creates a national domestic violence hotline, and orders that protection orders of one state must be enforced by the other states. It also added a rape shield law to the Federal rules of evidence.

Other Provisions

Another provision of the act was to authorize the hiring of 100,000 more police officers, initiate boot camps for delinquent minors, and allocated a substantial amount of money to build new prisons. In addition, there were fifty new federal offenses, one of which was gang membership. This became controversial as the Bill of Rights provides for freedom of association. These aspects of the bill were downplayed surrounding its passage.

External links

Full text of the Act (


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