Sep 152004
Authors: Joe Marshall

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

the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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