were banned federally under the Bill Clinton administration, from 1994
to 2004, but have been legal federally ever since. (Although several states do ban the weapons.) H.R. 4269,
the Assault Weapons Ban of 2015, was introduced by Rep. David Cicilline
(R-RI1) last December about two weeks after the San Bernardino
massacre. The bill would reinstate the federal ban from the 1990s.
134 Democratic cosponsors and zero Republican cosponsors, this has
proven one of the most polarized bills in all of Congress, regardless of
subject matter. Conservatives may be turning on the issue, though.
Polls this week show the highest support ever for an assault weapons ban, two Fox News hosts have called for a renewed assault weapons ban in recent days, and a highly-publicized analysis found that virtually every mass shooting in recent years has utilized a legally-purchased and legally-owned assault weapon.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Dec 16, 2015.
Assault Weapons Ban of 2015
This bill amends the federal criminal code to make it a crime to knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon (SAW) or large capacity ammunition feeding device (LCAFD).
The prohibition does not apply to a firearm that is: (1) manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action; (2) permanently inoperable; (3) an antique; or (4) a rifle or shotgun specifically identified by make and model.
Additionally, the bill does not prohibit, with respect to a SAW or LCAFD:
importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession related to certain law enforcement efforts, or authorized tests or experiments; importation, sale, transfer, or possession related to securing nuclear materials; and possession by a retired law enforcement officer. The bill permits continued possession, sale, or transfer of a grandfathered SAW, which must be securely stored. A licensed gun dealer must conduct a background check prior to the sale or transfer of a grandfathered SAW between private parties.
The bill permits continued possession of, but prohibits sale or transfer of, a grandfathered LCAFD.
Newly manufactured LCAFDs must display serial number identification. Newly manufactured SAWs and LCAFDs must display the date of manufacture.
The legislation amends the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 to require law enforcement agencies to be notified when a prohibited person attempts to purchase a grandfathered SAW.
It also amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to allow a state or local government to use Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program funds to compensate individuals who surrender a SAW or LCAFD under a buy-back program.