Talk about shootin’ blanks.
The Federal Crime Control Act of 1994 finally died Monday
morning, ending a decade-long ban on the manufacture and sale of 19
different types of semi-automatic pistols and rifles.
While I’m less than enthusiastic about semi-automatic shotguns
with 30-round clips once again being totally legal for sale to any
pissed postal worker who wants one, I am happy to see the demise of
what may be the worst piece of federal legislation since the
Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1932.
Make no mistake that I, along with more than two-thirds of the
American public, believe there is a need for federal laws that keep
military-style combat weaponry out of criminal hands. The problem I
had with the Crime Control Act of 1994 was not its lofty aim, but
the fact that it was, in practice, totally impotent.
At its time of passage, the law, which banned such weapons as
the AK-47 and the TEC-9, was hailed by liberals as a landmark
victory for gun-control advocates. What became painfully clear soon
after the law’s enactment, was the number of holes the gun lobby
was able to shoot in it.
While the Crime Control Act of 1994 prohibited the manufacture
and sale of 19 essentially brand-name weapons, as well as
large-capacity ammunition clips, it did not prohibit the resale of
banned weapons and accessories produced before 1994. Furthermore,
the Crime Control Act did not ban the manufacture and sale of
“generic” versions of banned weapons such as the Chinese SKS, a
virtual copy of the Soviet AK-47.
In addition to its neglecting barely modified versions of banned
weapons and accessories, the law was only enforceable among
federally licensed arms dealers. The law was basically invisible to
arms dealers at gun shows and trade expositions, where
approximately 40 percent of U.S. gun purchases are made.
Since this law’s inception, the only people whose assault-weapon
purchasing power was even slightly hindered was the law-abiding
citizen who, for the most part, is responsible enough to own such a
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were not, as a result of this
legislation, prevented from purchasing a TEC-9 at a Denver gun show
and using it to murder their classmates 53 months ago.
How could a federal law, aimed at preventing the proliferation
of assault weapons into the hands of people like Harris and
Klebold, be so completely ineffective? The answer, of course,
depends on who you ask.
The left blames the National Rifle Association, the heavyweight
political lobby that has contributed over $14 million since 1994 to
congressional and senatorial sympathizers, 85 percent of whom are
When compared to the gun-control lobbying groups, which during
the same period contributed only $1.7 million to Political Action
Campaigns and congressional campaigns, it becomes obvious which
side possesses more clout in Congress.
My friend Josh Rosenberg, a CSU student and owner of more guns
than anyone I know, has a different opinion of why the ban was so
“The ban’s a joke,” Rosenberg asserts, “because it was never
anything more than a ploy by Clinton to get votes.”
While I tend to lean more toward blaming the NRA than I do
Clinton, Rosenberg makes a good case for his position. Somebody on
the left had to see beforehand how impractical this legislation
would be, and yet it was not only pushed through but also praised.
Boo to the donkeys.
If nothing else, I hope that gun-control advocates learn from
this failure and make a better effort at passing truly effective
legislation when the next opportunity comes along.
Unfortunately for Americans, that opportunity will probably only
arise in the wake of another terrible tragedy.
Joe is a senior history major. His column runs every Thursday in