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Fact: Arming More People Doesn’t Make Us Safer

Washington—As the House Judiciary Committee prepares to hold a hearing on federal Assault Weapons Ban legislation on September 25, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on misinformation spread by the National Rifle Association:

            “The NRA has a catchy saying, that good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns. Unfortunately they ignore the reality, which is that more guns actually lead to more deadly situations and that it’s unrealistic to expect that untrained civilians will somehow stop mass murderers,” Feinstein said.

            Feinstein continued: “The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to make sure he doesn’t get it in the first place. We should focus on drying up the supply of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and putting in place laws that keep all guns away from dangerous individuals.”

NRA myth: The NRA often says the only thing that can stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun.

Fact: Multiple studies have found that armed civilians don’t stop mass shootings. Arming more people isn’t the answer. Keeping guns away from dangerous individuals is the best way to reduce instances of mass shootings.

  • Overall, more guns on the streets means more crime. One Stanford University study found that overall violent crime was higher in states with concealed carry laws, increasing as much as 15 percent a decade after the laws were implemented.
  • In Dayton, a gunman shot 26 people in 32 seconds, killing nine. It took police on the scene less than a minute to kill the shooter. It’s unrealistic to expect untrained civilians to respond in mere seconds when bullets are flying.
  • Armed civilians can make situations worse. During the 2011 shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, an armed civilian who helped subdue the shooter nearly shot the wrong person.

Feinstein gun safety bills

            Senator Feinstein has introduced several pieces of legislation during the 116th Congress related to gun safety reform.

Assault Weapons Ban Act

  • Senator Feinstein in January 2019 introduced the Assault Weapons Ban, an updated bill to ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
  • The bill, which currently has 34 Senate cosponsors, bans 205 military-style assault weapons by name. It also bans any weapon that accepts a detachable 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.
  • The bill also bans magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, which allow shooters to quickly fire many rounds without needing to reload.
  • One update to the bill would allow, though not mandate, federal funds from the Justice Department’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program to be used to buy back assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The funds provide an incentive to retire weapons and accessories already in circulation.

Extreme Risk Protection Order Act

  • Senator Feinstein in February 2019 introduced a bill to help states develop court processes that allow family members to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
  • The Extreme Risk Protection Order Act would allow states to use funds from the Justice Department’s COPS program to develop court processes that would allow family members to petition a court for a gun violence prevention order to temporarily block dangerous individuals from purchasing weapons from federally licensed dealers. If a prevention order were granted, the individual would be designated a prohibited purchaser in the NICS background check system.
  • States could also develop court processes that would allow family members to petition a court for an extreme risk protection order that would grant law enforcement the authority to temporarily take weapons from dangerous individuals who present a threat to themselves or others. The bill contains significant due process protections by ensuring confidentiality and the opportunity to be heard by a judge.

Age 21 Act

  • Senator Feinstein in May 2019 introduced the Age 21 Act, a bill to raise the minimum age to purchase assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines from 18 to 21.
  • Under current federal law, an individual is required to be at least 21 years old in order to legally purchase a handgun but only 18 years of age to legally purchase an assault rifle like the AR-15 used in the Poway shooting.
  • The bill, which Senator Feinstein initially introduced in 2018 with Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), creates parity in federal firearms law by prohibiting the sale of assault weapons to individuals under 21.