The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Act was enacted as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994
.[The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Act was enacted as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 199411]
The prohibitions expired on September 13, 2004.
The Act prohibited the manufacture, transfer, or possession of "semiautomatic assault weapons," as defined by the Act. "Weapons banned were identified either by specific make or model (including copies or duplicates thereof, in any caliber), or by specific characteristics that slightly varied according to whether the weapon was a pistol, rifle, or shotgun" (see below).
The Act also prohibited the manufacture of "large capacity ammunition feeding devices" (LCAFDs) except for sale to government, law enforcement or military, though magazines made before the effective date ("pre-ban" magazines) were legal to possess & transfer. An LCAFD was defined as "any magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device manufactured after the date [of the act] that has the capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition".
The Act included a number of exemptions and exclusions from its prohibitions:
In 1989, the George H. W. Bush administrationhad banned the importation of foreign-made, semiautomatic rifles deemed not to have "a legitimate sporting use." It did not affect similar but domestically-manufactured rifles.
(The Gun Control Act of 1968 gives discretion to the Attorney General of the United States to choose whether to "authorize a firearm or ammunition to be imported or brought into the United States," under what is known as "the sporting purposes test.")
Following the enactment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, the ATF determined that "certain semiautomatic assault rifles could no longer be imported even though they were permitted to be imported under the 1989 'sporting purposes test' because they had been modified to remove all of their military features other than the ability to accept a detachable magazine" and so in April 1998, it "prohibited the importation of 56 such rifles, determining that they did not meet the 'sporting purposes test.'"