On the “Assault Weapon” Ban of Yore

In a conversation I had elsewhere on the web the topic of the 1994 “assault weapon” ban came up. The accusation made by the person whom I’ll simply refer to as Mr. Dipshit stated:

Of course, the “assault weapons ban” was anything but; it was actually just a subsidy to the American gun industry. Several American weapons which were nearly identical to foreign ones were not classified as assault weapons, while the foreign equivalents were.

I’m bringing this up because I’ve heard this before and for the life of me can’t figured out where this bullshit originated from. The 1994 “assault weapon” ban was not a subsidy to the American gun industry. How can I say that? Because the 1994 “assault weapon” ban had nothing to do with importation of foreign weapons… at all.

If you read the text of the bill [PDF] that established the “assault weapon” ban you’ll notice it first establishes a list of firearms that are outright banned:

`(i) Norinco, Mitchell, and Poly Technologies Avtomat Kalashnikovs (all models);
`(ii) Action Arms Israeli Military Industries UZI and Galil;
`(iii) Beretta Ar70 (SC-70);
`(iv) Colt AR-15;
`(v) Fabrique National FN/FAL, FN/LAR, and FNC;
`(vi) SWD M-10, M-11, M-11/9, and M-12;
`(vii) Steyr AUG;
`(viii) INTRATEC TEC-9, TEC-DC9 and TEC-22; and
`(ix) revolving cylinder shotguns, such as (or similar to) the Street Sweeper and Striker 12;

I’ve emphasized a rifle on that list, the AR-15. Why? Because it was a popular rifle produced in America. After listing these firearms specifically criteria was given to establish what qualifies as an “assault weapon” (as the term is made up they had to create rules for it):

`(B) a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of–
`(i) a folding or telescoping stock;
`(ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;
`(iii) a bayonet mount;
`(iv) a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor; and
`(v) a grenade launcher;

`(C) a semiautomatic pistol that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of–
`(i) an ammunition magazine that attaches to the pistol outside of the pistol grip;
`(ii) a threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer;
`(iii) 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;
`(iv) a manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded; and
`(v) a semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm; and

`(D) a semiautomatic shotgun that has at least 2 of–
`(i) a folding or telescoping stock;
`(ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;
`(iii) a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 5 rounds; and
`(iv) an ability to accept a detachable magazine.’.

None of these listed features were in any way specific to foreign firearms. Likewise many of these features were common to popular American manufactured firearms. Hell this law banned the production of M-14 pattern rifles because they had a flash suppressor and a bayonet lug (the ban was avoided by taking the bayonet lug off).

If there is an argument of a gun control law that established a subsidy to the American gun industry it would be the Gun Control Act of 1968 [PDF] (the last starts on page 4 of the linked document) which established import restrictions:

(4) The Attorney General shall permit the conditional importation of a firearm by a licensed importer or licensed manufacturer, for examination and test- ing to determine whether or not the un- conditional importation of such firearm would violate this subsection.

This granted the Attorney General authority to determine what can and can’t be imported into this country. There are also various parts of the legislation that talk about the concept of “sporting purpose.” The Gun Control Act of 1968 is the law that established restrictions on what can and can’t be brought into this country. If you want to whine about a government subsidy to the American gun industry this is the bill you need to bitch about. Likewise if you want to remove this government subsidy please talk to me as I’d love to help you out by getting the entire law abolished.

The bottom line is if you’re going to bitch about firearm laws then you better fucking know them. Actually this goes for both side because if you’re pro-gun and referencing the wrong, or worse non-existent, laws you’re not helping us. Research before you go on a rant about something because if you don’t do your research nobody is going to listen to you as you’ll be spouting bullshit. Nobody likes bullshit except for dung beetles.

5 thoughts on “On the “Assault Weapon” Ban of Yore”

  1. Actually Chris, there is some truth to this. Mr. Dipshit is getting just getting confused between the AWB, and 922r compliance laws. 922r Compliance laws did in fact bolster american manufactures, and were put in place to stop the importation of “cheaper” “non sporting” Rifles and shotguns. According to 922r you must have a specific number of U.S. parts in the gun. This was to stop kit builders from just importing all the parts and assembling them here. Now days they import most of the parts manufacture some and assemble them here. 922r went into effect in 1989, not 1994, so it pre-dates the AWB by 5 years. This is why wasr’s are brought into country as single stack guns (cause that’s sporting /facepalm), then have american parts installed, and the magazine well opened.

    Here is the 922
    The specific r clause is below
    (r) It shall be unlawful for any person to assemble from imported parts any semiautomatic rifle or any shotgun which is identical to any rifle or shotgun prohibited from importation under section 925 (d)(3) of this chapter as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes except that this subsection shall not apply to—
    (1) the assembly of any such rifle or shotgun for sale or distribution by a licensed manufacturer to the United States or any department or agency thereof or to any State or any department, agency, or political subdivision thereof; or
    (2) the assembly of any such rifle or shotgun for the purposes of testing or experimentation authorized by the Attorney General.

    The atf went further to clarify that a specific number of parts must be used (majority) to satisfy the r clause. Every gun has it’s own specific number depending on constructions and what not. It’s very fucking confusing, and firearm specific. With ak’s it’s 6 us parts, or 5 without a muzzle break. What parts count and what don’t seem entirely arbitrary.

    Mr dipshit is then probably further run amiss by looking at pre-post ban guns, seeing the similarities (one has a muzzle break one doesn’t), and thinking this is some how related to import restrictions. When in reality, the manufacturers were just avoiding the letter of the law by not attaching bayonet lugs, or flash hiders. (I know you know this but others may not).

    I think Mr. Dipshit is probably just confused. This topic is difficult to navigate at best. I know it confused the hell out of me the first time around.

    1. You’re not allowed to disagree with me in any ways on my site!

      Seriously though you bring up a very good point. As I did not put up the entire conversation between Mr. Dipship and myself I feel some context is required on why I don’t believe he knows anything about firearm laws in general.

      I assumed idiocy on his behalf because the discussion was one involving a comparison of Democrats vs. Republicans. Namely the argument I participated in stemmed from an statement that it was baseless that gun owners worry when major sections of the government are controlled by the Democratic party. I brought up several gun control laws which were put forth when the Democratic Party was last in control (the Clinton era).

      As the discussion was not namely about firearms and Mr. Dipshit implied the “assault weapon” ban was pushed through as a subsidy for American gun industry (thus a Republican maneuver for big business) I ditched all belief that he knew anything about gun laws.

      Mr. Dipshit seems unwilling to continue debate with me since I brought up the “assault weapon” ban had nothing to do with importation thus I’m unlikely going to be able to find out if he has ever heard of 922r.

      Either way it is possible he knows more about firearm laws than I’m assuming and thus I may have just made an ass out of myself.

  2. I’m sure he didn’t care enough to investigate fully, but I’ve heard gun owners/enthusiasts confuse 922r and the AWB ban before. Mixing them together in whatever flavor they heard from their local ffl…

    My post was just a clarification, and maybe an explanation of where all this nonsense comes from. 922r and the AWB are two different thing entirely, and he still didn’t know wtf he was talking about.

    1. Although this really has little to do with the topic at hand I have to say the whole history behind 922(r) goes deep.

      From what I can find it started with the Gun Control Act of 1968 which established 925(d)(3) into law which stated:

      “(d) The Attorney General shall author- ize a firearm or ammunition to be im- ported or brought into the United States or any possession thereof if the firearm or ammunition—

      (3)is of a type that does not fall within the definition of a firearm as de- fined in section 5845(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 and is gener- ally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting pur- poses, excluding surplus military fire- arms, except in any case where the Attorney General has not authorized the importation of the firearm pursuant to this paragraph, it shall be unlawful to import any frame, receiver, or barrel of such firearm which would be prohibited if assembled; or”

      This lead to the following memo released by the ATF on July 6, 1989:


      Which was part of a larger report that listed specifically rifles that the ATF didn’t believe met the definition of “sporting purpose” and thus became banned form importation:


      These recommendations lead to a minor although important amendment by “Representative” Jolene Unsoeld which was based off of the ATF report:


      The amendment applied to the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1990:


      And that’s how we got 922(r) placed into law. Fucking Hell that’s a long trail to follow and I’m sure I’m missing several things. Whoever says the United States barely have any gun control legislation can go fuck themselves.

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