Hi gang, new here but been collecting guns for thirty years.
There seems to be some confusion over what exactly preban means and also the manufacturing ban on machine guns.
Since I lived through this lets hit it in order. The manufacturing ban on machine guns was slipped into the Firearm owners protection act in 1986. This was done by democrats on the House floor while few people were there and it was done on a voice vote. The NRA who had labored long to get the FOPA thought the US Supreme Court would rule the manufacture ban of machine guns for civilian use unconsititutional. They advised President Reagan to go ahead and sign the bill into law and let the courts fix the ban. Well that was 21 years ago. A mistake, yes, but they really thought the courts would throw it out. So it was not malicious.
Semi Auto bans. There were two. The first was in 1989 and only dealt with imported firearms. That still stands as it was permanent. You have two culprits. The President Bush (the elder's) "Drug Czar" William Bennett temporarily banned the import of so called assault weapons while the issue was to be studied. This was because of a mass shooting in Stockton California in a school yard. Patrick Purdy killed several children using a semiauto Norinco AK with the word Hezbollah carved in the butt stock. However in days following Bennett's temp ban, the US Congress, again majority democrat, stepped in and made the import ban permanent by passing a law to ban further importation of the guns.
1994 Bill Clinton and the democrat congress passed a ban on all semiautomatic "assault weapons" using a nebulous description of what an assault weapon was. This ban sunset in 2004. Prior to that Bill Clinton by executive order with Secretary of the Tresury Lloyd Benson banned a number of different types of shotguns as destructive devices...
With the sunset in 2004 many so called assault weapons made in the US are back. The AR 15 derivitives and so forth quickly come to mind as does the Springfield Armory M1A copy of the M14. While they were still made during the ban, they were defanged of bayonet lugs and flash hiders.
However some great guns that were imported like the original Steyr AUG, Beretta BM59,BM62, AR70 Daewoos from Korea, HKs from Germany. Original FN FAL, FNC etc...I can go on and on about the foreign guns. We will not see those from those makers until the law is over turned. With the Dems running both chambers of congress again and the prospect of President Hillary or Obama after 2008...forget it. So get out to vote the right way.
So when you see the term preban, if it is an imported arm, that is not copied in the US, the issue and term is still quite valid. I also find many of the US copies with their required US made parts to be found wanting in many areas... So before you go arguing with someone at a gun shop or gun show using the term preban, know what you are looking at.