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(14,965 posts)
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 03:30 PM Dec 2021

Question about the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban (10 year ban)

I remembered it being close, but looked it up and see that it passed 52-48. So now I have questions...

1) What was the Party breakdown? I'd be willing to bet it wasn't entirely on a Party line.

2) Why didn't anyone filibuster? I find that rather odd. Not even Jesse Helms?

3) Why was the ban for only 10 years? Did anyone want to make it permanent? I can't think of many bans with expiration dates on them.

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Question about the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban (10 year ban) (Original Post) Polybius Dec 2021 OP
I was a kid when it passed, but from my limited understanding DetroitLegalBeagle Dec 2021 #1
The political price for the AWB was steep. PTWB Dec 2021 #3
It was part of the 1994 Crime Bill, which passed the Senate, 95 - 4 sl8 Dec 2021 #2
Here it says 52-48 Polybius Dec 2021 #4
Interesting sl8 Dec 2021 #5
I don't think so Polybius Dec 2021 #6
OK. n/t sl8 Dec 2021 #7
I think you were correct. PTWB Dec 2021 #9
This indicates it was 56 to 43 in favor of the AWB amendment. PTWB Dec 2021 #8
I think you're on the right track. sl8 Dec 2021 #10
Yes, I'm not sure what the confusion is. PTWB Dec 2021 #11
Interesting 4 no's Polybius Dec 2021 #13
That 56-4 vote in your link says "Vote Date: November 17, 1993" Polybius Dec 2021 #14
There are a lot of votes on major legislation. PTWB Dec 2021 #15
Thank you :) Polybius Dec 2021 #18
It certainly was contentious. sl8 Dec 2021 #16
In my memory, the bill accomplished very little actual accomplishment. Hangingon Dec 2021 #12
The AWB mainly dealt with cosmetic features and not actual lethality. Kaleva Dec 2021 #17


(1,896 posts)
1. I was a kid when it passed, but from my limited understanding
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 04:01 PM
Dec 2021

It was part of a larger crime bill that itself had bipartisan support. The awb needed a sunset provision in order to pass. Including the permanent ban would have sunk the whole bill, and President Clinton didn't want to drop the ban, so the 10 year sunset was the compromise to get it passed. I've read there was hope it could have been extended afterwards, but the resulting backlash and electoral defeat that followed, which many blamed on passing the AWB, pretty much ended that.



(4,131 posts)
3. The political price for the AWB was steep.
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 04:29 PM
Dec 2021

Considering that ALL long guns combined (hunting rifles, shotguns, and so-called "assault weapons" ) account for such a statistically insignificant portion of our gun violence, I question the wisdom of paying that political price. A ban on handguns would have had some real impact but that would never have passed and if it had passed it would have been ruled unconstitutional.

We're still paying a political price for the 1994 AWB today, 17 years after it expired.


(13,541 posts)
2. It was part of the 1994 Crime Bill, which passed the Senate, 95 - 4
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 04:12 PM
Dec 2021

I'm not sure what the vote you're referring to was. Was it a vote to add the ban to the crime bill or ?


(14,965 posts)
4. Here it says 52-48
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 04:47 PM
Dec 2021

The 10-year ban was passed by the US Congress on September 13, 1994, following a close 52–48 vote in the US Senate, and was signed into law by US President Bill Clinton on the same day. The ban applied only to weapons manufactured after the date of the ban's enactment. It expired on September 13, 2004, in accordance with its sunset provision. Several constitutional challenges were filed against provisions of the ban, but all were rejected by the courts. There were multiple attempts to renew the ban, but none succeeded.


(13,541 posts)
5. Interesting
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 04:57 PM
Dec 2021

The article author didn't source that particular statement.

In the "References" section, there is a link to an article about a 1990 ban that did indeed pass the Senate with a 52 - 48 vote.

Footnote #2:


The Pittsburgh Press. Associated Press. May 23, 1990. p. A13. Retrieved September 30, 2013. A campaign for curbs on assault weapons began in January 1989 after a deranged gunman with an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle opened fire on a Stockton, Calif., school yard at recess time, leaving five children dead and 30 wounded.

I suspect that the author conflated the two.


(14,965 posts)
6. I don't think so
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 05:09 PM
Dec 2021

I was a young political guy in 1994. I remember it barely passing and Republicans throwing a fit. There's no way the final bill would have only gotten 4 "No" votes with something this divisive and polarizing in it.



(4,131 posts)
9. I think you were correct.
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 05:15 PM
Dec 2021

The AWB amendment passed 56 to 43 and the overall crime bill passed 95 to 4.


(13,541 posts)
10. I think you're on the right track.
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 05:23 PM
Dec 2021

That amendment modified S.1607, which was superceded by H.R.3355, which became law. Both 103rd Congress.




(4,131 posts)
11. Yes, I'm not sure what the confusion is.
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 05:26 PM
Dec 2021

Wiki appears to be incorrect but that isn't uncommon.

H.R. 3355 (the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994), which contained the AWB, passed the Senate 95 to 4.


(14,965 posts)
14. That 56-4 vote in your link says "Vote Date: November 17, 1993"
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 07:00 PM
Dec 2021

While I don't doubt you or the link since it's official, I'm positive that the vote that I remember was much later, at least around August of 1994. I was in karate when it happened, and I vividly remember the discussion and debate. I wasn't in karate in November of 1993. Could be two votes.

The Wiki link I posted says "September 13, 1994, following a close 52–48 vote." While they are sometimes (or a lot of times lol) wrong, that date sounds spot-on with with where I was at.

This one says 52-48 too:


You both are right about the final crime bill vote, with only 4 Nays.



(4,131 posts)
15. There are a lot of votes on major legislation.
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 07:13 PM
Dec 2021

Most of the votes are procedural and not directly related to voting on the legislation itself.

The bill wasn’t signed into law until September of 1994, so it’s likely there were many more procedural votes after the initial 95 to 4 vote referenced on the Senate.gov archive page.

You’ve got a good memory for sure. I’d have a hard time remembering even a handful of things I did in 1994.


(14,965 posts)
18. Thank you :)
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 08:06 PM
Dec 2021

I only remember because that karate class was something special. One guy I remember being furious and saying how it barely passed.


(13,541 posts)
16. It certainly was contentious.
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 07:37 PM
Dec 2021

Last edited Sat Dec 25, 2021, 06:50 AM - Edit history (1)

It was contentious, which the vote on the crime bill doesn't reflect.

It was also considerably watered down from Feinstein's earlier bills, but they had to compromise to get anything passed.

I didn't mean to get into the weeds on the procedural stuff, but the correct details certainly help to locate more information about the debate, esp. if you're reading the Congressional Record or even some if the more in-depth news pieces. Not having the bill or amendment number makes things more difficult to research, or, in the case of the Wikiedia/Politico articles, confirm.


(3,071 posts)
12. In my memory, the bill accomplished very little actual accomplishment.
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 05:31 PM
Dec 2021

It left a huge legacy of distrust. Lists of guns were proposed to be outlawed, it covered all the sporting guns. So called assault weapons owned before the ban were grandfathered but guns with bayonets were included. If you went to a gun show after the ban, you would see people walking around with AKs and ARs carrying pennants that said “PRE BAN” and buckets of. Detached SKS bayonets labeled “Tent Pegs”.


(36,025 posts)
17. The AWB mainly dealt with cosmetic features and not actual lethality.
Fri Dec 24, 2021, 07:56 PM
Dec 2021

An AWB compliant AR15 style rifle with a pistol grip is just as deadly as an AWB non-compliant AR-15 style rifle with a pistol grip, collapsible stock, bayonet lug and flash hider.

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