Time Line of Federal Firearms laws since 1968

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Time Line of Federal Firearms Laws since 1968

The Congressional Research Service has provided an annual summary of gun control laws considered in Congress. The February 3, 2011 version (downloadable here) has this appendix:

  • The Firearms Owners Protection Act, McClure-Volkmer Amendments (P.L. 99- 308, 1986), eases certain interstate transfer and shipment requirements for long guns, defines the term “engaged in the business,” eliminates some recordkeeping requirements, and bans the private possession of machine guns not legally owned prior to 1986. SEE ALSO David Hardy's page on the legislative history of McClure-Volkmer.
  • The Armor Piercing Ammunition Ban (P.L. 99-408, 1986, amended in P.L. 103- 322, 1994) prohibits the manufacture, importation, and delivery of handgun ammunition composed of certain metal substances and certain full-jacketed ammunition.
  • The Federal Energy Management Improvement Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-615) requires that all toys or firearm look-a-likes have a blazed orange plug in the barrel, denoting that it is a non-lethal imitation.
  • The Undetectable Firearms Act (P.L. 100-649, 1988, amended by P.L. 108-174, 2003), also known as the “plastic gun” legislation, bans the manufacture, import, possession, and transfer of firearms not detectable by security devices.
  • The Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-647), as originally enacted, was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court (United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995), April 26, 1995). The act prohibited possession of a firearm in a school zone (on the campus of a public or private school or within 1,000 feet of the grounds). In response to the Court’s finding that the act exceeded Congress’s authority to regulate commerce, the 104th Congress included a provision in P.L. 104-208 that amended the act to require federal prosecutors to include evidence that the firearms “moved in” or affected interstate commerce.
  • The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, 1993 (P.L. 103-159), requires that background checks be completed on all non-licensed persons seeking to obtain firearms from federal firearms licensees.
  • The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-322) prohibited the manufacture or importation of semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices for 10 years. The act also bans the sale or transfer of handguns and handgun ammunition to, or possession of handguns and handgun ammunition by, juveniles (younger than 18 years old) without prior written consent from the juvenile’s parent or legal guardian; exceptions related to employment, ranching, farming, target practice, and hunting are provided. In addition, the act disqualifies persons under court orders related to domestic abuse from receiving a firearm from any person or possessing a firearm. It also increased penalties for the criminal use of firearms. The assault weapons ban expired on September 13, 2004.
  • The Federal Domestic Violence Gun Ban (the Lautenberg Amendment, in the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY1997, P.L. 104-208) prohibits persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence from possessing firearms and ammunition. The ban applies regardless of when the offense was adjudicated: prior to, or following enactment. It has been challenged in the federal courts, but these challenges have been defeated.147
  • The Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Appropriations Act, 1999 (P.L. 105- 277), requires all federal firearms licensees to offer for sale gun storage and safety devices. It also bans firearms transfers to, or possession by, most non- immigrants and those non-immigrants who have overstayed the terms of their temporary visa.
  • The Treasury, Postal and General Government Appropriations Act (P.L. 106-58) requires that background checks be conducted when former firearms owners seek to reacquire a firearm that they sold to a pawnshop.
  • The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) establishes a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives by transferring the law enforcement functions, but not the revenue functions, of the former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Justice.
  • The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-277) provides that qualified active and retired law enforcement officers may carry a concealed firearm. This act supersedes state level prohibitions on concealed carry that would otherwise apply to law enforcement officers, but it does not override any federal laws. Nor does the act supersede or limit state laws that permit private persons or entities to prohibit or restrict the possession of concealed firearms on their property or prohibit or restrict the possession of firearms on any state or local government property, installation, building, base, or park.
  • The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (P.L. 109-92) prohibits certain types of lawsuits against firearms manufacturers and dealers to recover damages related to the criminal or unlawful use of their products (firearms and ammunition) by other persons.148 This law also includes provisions that (1) increase penalties for using armor-piercing handgun ammunition in the commission of a crime of violence or drug trafficking and (2) require the Attorney General to submit a report (within two years of enactment) on “armor- piercing” ammunition based on certain performance characteristics, including barrel length and amount of propellant (gun powder).
  • The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-162) authorized to be appropriated for ATF the following amounts: $924 million for FY2006, $961 million for FY2007, $999 million for FY2008, and $1.039 billion for FY2009.
  • The USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109- 177) includes a provision that requires that the ATF Director be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.
  • The Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006, which was included in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2007 (P.L. 109-295), amended the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. § 5207) to prohibit federal officials from seizing or authorizing the seizure of any firearm from private persons during a major disaster or emergency if possession of that firearm was not already prohibited under federal or state law. It also forbids the same officials from prohibiting the possession of any firearm that is not otherwise prohibited. Also, the law bans any prohibition on carrying firearms by persons who are otherwise permitted to legally carry such firearms because those persons are working under a federal agency, or under the control of an agency, providing disaster or emergency relief.