Second Amendment Alert: Senate Democrats introduce AR-15 ‘assault weapons ban’ citing ‘domestic terrorism’

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WASHINGTON, DC – Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a bill Thursday to ban the sale, transfer, manufacture, and importation of “military-style” assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition.

The ban on 205 different “assault weapons” includes the popular AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.

Thirty-five Senate Democrats have signed onto the bill called the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2021.” In a statement, Feinstein said the bill would save lives:

“It’s been 17 years since the original Assault Weapons Ban expired, and the plague of gun violence continues to grow in this country.

“To be clear, this bill saves lives. When it was in place from 1994-2004, gun massacres declined by 37 percent compared with the decade before. After the ban expired, the number of massacres rose by 183 percent.

“We’re now seeing a rise in domestic terrorism, and military-style assault weapons are increasingly becoming the guns of choice for these dangerous groups.”

The bill faces a tough road in the evenly divided Senate, where 60 votes are usually necessary to pass.  A companion bill introduced in the House by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) has a better chance of making it through the lower chamber.

H.R. 8, as the bill is known, passed the House on Thursday. The House version provides for enhanced and longer background checks, and prohibits the transfer of firearms between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer first tales possession of a firearm to conduct a background check.

Feinstein’s enhanced bill includes several key provisions, including the ban of 205 “military-style assault weapons” by name. The provision would allow present owners to keep their guns but would offer a buy-back option.

The bill bans any assault weapon with the capacity to utilize a magazine that is not a fixed ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics “including a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel, or a folding or telescoping stock.”

Magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition would also be subject to the ban.

Other provisions include background checks for any future sales, trades, or gifting of assault weapons, and a ban on bump-fire stocks and other devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at fully automatic rates.

The bill includes a grandfather clause that exempts all weapons possessed on the date of the bill’s enactment into law.

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One co-sponsor of Feinstein’s bill is Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), who said there is no reason “military-style” rifles are sold to the public:

“Military-style assault rifles were designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible. Period. There is no reason why these weapons should be sold to the public. President Biden ran on passing commonsense legislation to end the gun violence epidemic.

The data is clear: an assault weapons ban will save lives. I’m proud to join Senator Feinstein in reintroducing this critical legislation.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) agreed with his Connecticut colleague:

“What do Las Vegas, Orlando, Newtown, Sutherland Springs, El Paso, and Parkland all have in common? These communities are a tragic shorthand for some of the deadliest mass shootings in our nation’s history, all of which involved an assault weapon.

“Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are deadly and dangerous weapons of war that belong on battlefields—not our streets. They have no purpose for self-defense or hunting, and no business being in our schools, churches, and malls. By passing this legislation, Congress can honor the memory of the beautiful lives cut short by military-style assault weapons in far too many American cities.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pledged to bring the legislation to the floor:

“In the past, when they sent it over to us last time, it went into [former Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard. The legislative graveyard is over.

“H.R. 8 will be on the floor of the Senate, and we will see where everybody stands. No more hopes and prayers, thoughts and prayers. A vote is what we need, a vote, not thoughts and prayers.”

The National Rifle Association (NRA) said there was zero evidence that the ban would prevent mass shootings:

“Mass shootings have unfortunately occurred during the prior federal “assault weapons” ban and more recently in states with their own sweeping prohibitions on semiautomatic firearms. They have involved many different types of guns over the years, with the firearms targeted by this bill no more often represented than other common types of guns.

“The firearms the bill targets are, however, the most popular class of centerfire rifles in America, with some 16 million having entered then stream of commerce in the U.S. since the previous national ban expired in 2004.

“Law-abiding Americans use them for every type of lawful purpose, including personal and home defense, hunting, marksmanship competitions, and recreational target practice.”

The NRA went on to say that AR-15 rifles have actually been used by law-abiding citizens to prevent mass shootings, and that the rifle is not the firearm chosen by most criminals:

“Ironically, one of the nation’s most notorious mass shootings was actually stopped by a hero wielding an AR-15, exactly the sort of rifle targeted by the bill. Steven Willeford of Sutherland Springs, TX, credits his AR-15 with giving him the wherewithal to confront an armed assailant who had been preying on helpless victims at a local church. Willeford’s quick action caused the attacker to flee and stopped any further loss of innocent life.

“But while law-abiding Americans have adopted semiautomatic rifles in droves, they are not the firearm of choice for violent criminals. Year after year, the FBI’s statistics tell a consistent story: rifles of any sort are used less often as a murder weapon than other types of common firearms, as well as knives and cutting instruments, clubs, and other blunt objects, and even hands, fists, and feet. Feinstein’s bill would ban firearms that are actually under-represented in nationwide violent crime trends.”

Calling the ban a violation of the Second Amendment, the NRA warned that criminals will not be deterred by the ban:

“Needless to say, however, the modern criminal element will not be playing by the antiquated rules that Feinstein hopes to apply to the rest of us.

“Rest assured, the NRA will not stand for this latest assault on the Second Amendment. Americans have a constitutional right to possess firearms ‘in common use at the time for lawful purposes,’ and the semiautomatics and magazines covered by this bill undoubtedly fit that description.

“We have been warning about the coming onslaught of national gun control proposals from congressional Democrats. Now that it is upon us, it is more important than ever before that gun owners remain focused and united in fighting for our rights.”

 

 

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