Caliornia’s Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced a major assault weapons ban — but all indications from pundits and politicos is that it doesn’t have a chance of passing in its present incarnation or in the present political climate where the National Rifle Association still controls a large number of votes in Congress:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and a group of Senate Democrats on Thursday introduced legislation to ban the sale and manufacture of more than 150 types of semi-automatic weapons with military-style features.
The legislation also bans magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition and requires people who already own assault rifles to use secure storage and safety devices and bars them from selling high-capacity clips.
“No weapon is taken from anyone,” said Feinstein. “The purpose is to dry up the supply of these weapons over time.”
Unlike the 1994 assault-weapons ban, there is no sunset provision in Feinstein’s newest gun-control bill.
It sounds like the kind of bill those who want to regulate the use and sale of guns want. And it does have support from important groups:
The lawmakers introduced the bill at a press conference with law-enforcement groups supporting the legislation. Groups endorsing the bill include the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Police Foundation, and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
The co-sponsors include Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, whose home state of Connecticut last month witnessed one of the nation’s worst episodes of gun violence when an assailant killed 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School with an M-4 Bushmaster assault rifle.
But realistically speaking: the NRA still has considerable support in Congress, partially on philsophical grounds but not un-incidentally because many politicians fear them coming into a district and working against them or giving money to their opponent’s campaign.
Feinstein acknowledged the bill would face stiff opposition in Congress.
“Getting this bill signed into law will be an uphill battle, and I recognize that — but it’s a battle worth having,” she said. “We must balance the desire of a few to own military-style assault weapons with the growing threat to lives across America.”
The bill would ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and import of all semi-automatic rifles and pistols that can accept detachable magazines and have at least one military feature.
It would also ban semi-automatic rifles and handguns that have fixed magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds and all semi-automatic shotguns that have folding or detachable stocks, pistol grips, forward grips, or fixed magazines with room for more than five rounds.
Look for it not to pass in this Congress. And look for there to be more ringing words about how its time for an assault weapons ban when the next instance of carnage of innocents occurs.
But, as noted here, if many politicians have to choose between acting on laws that might prevent deaths and being given fig-leap spin to support the NRA and get campaign donations, guess which one they’ll choose?
The one they have chosen — and are choosing.
UPDATE: Feinstein got a major endorsement from a mayor. We just received this email:
U.S. CONFERENCE OF MAYORS PRESIDENT PHILADELPHIA MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER
ENDORSES FEINSTEIN ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN BILL
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Conference of Mayors President Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter today stood with CA Senator Dianne Feinstein in support of her introduction of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 at a press conference on Capitol Hill. Senators Durbin (IL), Schumer (NY), Blumenthal (CT) and Murphy (CT), as well as Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (NY), Ed Perlmutter (CO) and Elizabeth Esty (CT), in addition to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey (and President of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association) also attended today’s event and endorsed the bill.
Senator Feinstein addressed the nation’s mayors last week at the 81st Winter Meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which has supported a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines for several years, and has called for reinstatement and strengthening of the ban since it expired in 2004.
Mayor Nutter’s remarks as prepared from today’s press event are as follows:
“Thank you Senator Feinstein. Again and again and again, Americans have been stunned by senseless acts of violence involving assault weapons and large-capacity magazines: Columbine (April 1999, 13 murdered), Virginia Tech (April 2007, 32 murdered), Tucson (January 2011, 6 murdered, 12 wounded including one Congresswoman), Aurora (July 2012, 12 murdered), Oak Creek (August 2012, 6 murdered).
“The December 14 tragedy which killed 20 young children and six educators in Newtown remains incomprehensible to us all. Too many times during the last year, mayors have expressed shock at a mass shooting. Even more frequently, many of us must cope with the gun violence that occurs on the streets of our cities.
“’Weapons of mass destruction’ are destroying our communities, our streets and our families. The first police officer we lost after I became mayor was killed by an AK-47. Citizens have been killed on Philadelphia’s streets by handguns with high capacity magazines as well as assault rifles. This needs to end NOW!
“Every day in America, 282 people are shot and 86 of them die, including 32 who are murdered. Every day 50 children and teens are shot and eight of them die, including five who are murdered. This must STOP!
“The legislation which Senator Feinstein and others are introducing this morning will help to make that happen. I am here to register the strong support of The U.S. Conference of Mayors for the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 and to commit our organization to doing everything possible to see it enacted into law.
“I have with me this morning a letter originally sent just three days after the Newtown tragedy occurred and now signed by 210 mayors which calls on the President and Congress to take immediate action and make reasonable changes in our gun laws and regulations. Listed first among our recommended changes is enactment of the legislation to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines being prepared by Senator Dianne Feinstein and others. When she discussed this bill and her commitment to passing it at the Conference’s Winter Meeting last week, Senator Feinstein described herself as “a former mayor on a mission. Senator Feinstein, I am here today to report you have an army of current mayors on a mission standing with you, ready to do what it takes to see this legislation become law.”