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Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act

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Title: Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act  
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Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act

Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An Act To control and prevent crime
Nicknames Crime bill
Enacted by the 103rd United States Congress
Public Law Pub.L. 103–322
Statutes at Large 108 Stat. 1796
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as H.R. 3355 by Jack Brooks (D-TX) on October 26, 1993
  • Committee consideration by House Judiciary
  • Passed the House on November 3, 1993 (voice vote)
  • Passed the Senate on November 19, 1993 (95–4, in lieu of S. 1607)
  • Reported by the joint conference committee on August 10 and August 21, 1994; agreed to by the House on August 21, 1994 (235–195) and by the Senate on August 25, 1994 (61–38)
  • Signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, H.R. 3355, Pub.L. 103–322 (sometimes called the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, as part of the Act dealt with that subject), is an act of Congress dealing with crime and law enforcement that became law in 1994. It is the largest crime bill in the history of the United States, consisting of 356 pages providing for 100,000 new police officers, $9.7 billion in funding for prisons and $6.1 billion in funding for prevention programs which were designed with significant input from experienced police officers.[1] Sponsored by U.S. Representative Jack Brooks of Texas, the bill was originally written by Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Following the 101 California Street shootings, the 1993 Waco Siege, and other high-profile instances of violent crime, the Act expanded federal law in several ways. One of the most noted sections was the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Other parts of the Act provided for a greatly expanded federal death penalty, new classes of individuals banned from possessing firearms, and a variety of new crimes defined in statutes relating to immigration law, hate crimes, sex crimes, and gang-related crime. The bill also required states to establish registries for sexual offenders by September 1997.

Federal Assault Weapons Ban

Title XI-Firearms, Subtitle A-Assault Weapons, formally known as the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, but commonly known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban or the Semi-automatic Firearms Ban, barred the manufacture of 19 specific semi-automatic firearms, classified as "assault weapons", as well as any semi-automatic rifle, pistol, or shotgun capable of accepting a detachable magazine, and which has two or more features considered characteristic of such weapons. The list of such features included telescoping or folding stocks, pistol grips, flash suppressors, grenade launchers, and bayonet lugs.[2]

This law also banned possession of newly manufactured magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition.

The ban took effect September 13, 1994, and expired on September 13, 2004, due to a unconstitutional and that it violated the Second Amendment.

Federal Death Penalty Act

Title VI, the Federal Death Penalty Act, created 60 new death penalty offenses under 41 Federal capital statutes,[3] for crimes related to acts of terrorism, murder of a federal law enforcement officer, drug trafficking, civil rights-related murders, drive-by shootings resulting in death, the use of weapons of mass destruction resulting in death, and carjackings resulting in death.

The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing occurred a few months after this law came into effect, and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 was passed in response, further increasing the federal death penalty. In 2001, Timothy McVeigh was executed for the murder of eight federal law enforcement agents under this title.

Elimination of inmate education

One of the more controversial provisions of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act overturned a section of the Higher Education Act of 1965 permitting prison inmates to receive a Pell Grant for postsecondary education while incarcerated. The amendment is as follows:

Because of this, the VCCLEA effectively eliminated the ability of lower income prison inmates to receive college educations during their term of imprisonment, thus ensuring the education level of most inmates remains unimproved over the period of their incarceration.[5]

Violence Against Women Act

Title IV, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), allocated $1.6 billion to help prevent and investigate violence against women. VAWA was renewed in 2000 and in 2005. This includes:

Part of VAWA was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in United States v. Morrison (2000).

Driver's Privacy Protection Act

Title XXX, the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994, governs the privacy and disclosure of personal information gathered by state Departments of Motor Vehicles. The law was passed in 1994; it was introduced by Rep. Jim Moran in 1992, after an increase in opponents of abortion rights using public driving license databases to track down and harass abortion providers and patients, most notably besieging Susan Wicklund's home for a month and following her daughter to school.[6]

Other provisions

Another provision of the Act authorized the hiring of 100,000 more police officers, initiate "boot camps" for delinquent minors, and allocated a substantial amount of money to build new prisons.

Fifty new federal offenses were added, including provisions making membership in gangs a crime. Some argued that these provisions violated the guarantee of freedom of association in the Bill of Rights. The Act also generally prohibits individuals who have been convicted of a felony involving breach of trust from working in the business of insurance, unless they have received written consent from state regulators.

The Act also made drug testing mandatory for those serving on federal supervised release.


The increase in incarceration led to prison overcrowding. The legal system relied on plea bargains to minimize the increased case load.[7] Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton later regretted the measure.[8][9]


  1. ^ "Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994". National criminal justice reference service. 
  2. ^ Spitzer, Robert J. (2012). "Assault Weapons". In Carter, Gregg Lee. Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law (2nd ed.). Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. p. 53.  
  3. ^ "The Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994". Office of the United States Attorneys. Department of Justice. Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "H. R. 1168". Bulk.Resource.Org. 
  5. ^ "Education as Crime Prevention: The Case for Reinstating Pell Grant Eligibility for the Incarcerated".  
  6. ^ Miller, Michael W. (August 25, 1992). "Information Age: Debate Mounts Over Disclosure Of Driver Data". Wall Street Journal. 
  7. ^ Rohrlich, Justin (November 10, 2014). "Why Are There Up to 120,000 Innocent People in US Prisons?". VICE news. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  8. ^ Vara, Vauhini (November 7, 2014). "Will California Again Lead the Way on Prison Reform?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Hunt, Kasie (10/08/14). "Bill Clinton: Prison sentences to take center stage in 2016". MSNBC. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 

External links

  • Full text of the Act
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