What is the “Assault Weapons Ban”?

In 1994, Congress passed the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, commonly referred to as the “Assault Weapons Ban.” This law prohibited the manufacture or sale for civilian use of certain semi-automatic weapons and magazines that could accommodate 10 rounds or more. Notably, Congress authorized the legislation for 10 years. When Congress did not renew it in 2004, the Act expired.

In March 2021, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the Assault Weapons Ban Act, H.R. 1808 to reinstate the assault weapons ban. Then, the House of Representatives passed the legislation by a vote of 217-213 in July 2022. The House and the Senate reintroduced the bill this session as the Assault Weapons Ban of 2023 (S. 25 H.R. 698).

What Does the Assault Weapons Ban Act Do?

In brief, the Assault Weapons Ban Act includes several provisions to limit access to certain semi-automatic rifles.

  • Describes the kinds of semiautomatic firearms that count as assault weapons.
  • Also defines and restricts large capacity ammunition feeding devices.
  • Outlines restrictions on the manufacturing, sale, ownership or transfer of these firearms and ammunition devices with certain exceptions.
  • Requires a date to be printed on any prohibited firearms or ammunition feeding devices made after the law is enacted.
  • Sets out rules for the safe storage and transfer of any firearms or devices regulated by the law that were owned prior to its passage.
  • Additionally, provides for an optional “buy-back” program.

The Pax Christi USA Gun Violence Prevention Working Group urges Pax Christi members to take the following steps in support of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2023 (HR. 698/S.25):

  • Contact Sen. Dick Durbin (Illinois), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and demand he mark up the bill for the committee to vote. There have been enough cosponsor votes to pass the Assault Weapons Ban out of committee for months, and it is long past time for action.
  • Contact Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (New York) and demand a floor vote on the Assault Weapons Ban. The public deserves to know who is voting no on such crucial legislation that can save lives.
  • Contact anyone who lives in Illinois or New York and ask them as constituents of Senators Durbin and Schumer to put pressure on their elected officials to take action against senseless gun violence.

Contact your Senators and House Members

Photo: Stephen Melkisethian, March for Our Lives, June 2022, Washington DC

2 thoughts on “Take action: Urge Congress to act on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2023

  1. How ironical that recent articles in the Journal of the American Psychiatric Association connect our quasi-sexual fetishism with firearms with our
    obscene and insane compulsion to build and sell weaponry to the whole world.
    What the psychiatrists fail to mention is the sickness of Catholic clerics who publicly bless these war machines at military installations. No wonder as a nation we are hell-bent on destroying each other.
    David-Ross Gerling, PhD

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