Senators Introduce Assault Weapons Ban
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and a number of her colleagues today introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017, a bill to ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Joining Senator Feinstein on the bill are Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.).
Senator Feinstein, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement:
“We’re introducing an updated Assault Weapons Ban for one reason: so that after every mass shooting with a military-style assault weapon, the American people will know that a tool to reduce these massacres is sitting in the Senate, ready for debate and a vote.
“This bill won’t stop every mass shooting, but it will begin removing these weapons of war from our streets. The first Assault Weapons Ban was just starting to show an effect when the NRA stymied its reauthorization in 2004. Yes, it will be a long process to reduce the massive supply of these assault weapons in our country, but we’ve got to start somewhere.
“To those who say now isn’t the time, they’re right—we should have extended the original ban 13 years ago, before hundreds more Americans were murdered with these weapons of war. To my colleagues in Congress, I say do your job.
“It’s important to understand how we got where we are today. In 1966, the unthinkable happened: a madman climbed the University of Texas clock tower and opened fire, killing more than a dozen people.
“It was the first mass shooting in the age of television, and it left a real impression on the country. It was the kind of terror we didn’t expect to ever see again. But around 30 years ago, we started to see an uptick in these types of shootings, and over the last decade they’ve become the new norm.
- In July 2012, a gunman walked into a darkened theater in Aurora and shot 12 people to death, injuring 70 more. One of his weapons was an assault rifle. The sudden and utterly random violence was a terrifying sign of what was to come.
- In December 2012, a young man entered an elementary school in Newtown and murdered six educators and 20 young children. One of his weapons was an assault rifle. Watching the aftermath of these young babies being gunned down was heartrending.
- In June 2016, a gunman entered a nightclub in Orlando and sprayed revelers with gunfire. The shooter fired hundreds of rounds, many in close proximity, and killed 49. Many of the victims were shot in the head at close range. One of his weapons was an assault rifle.
- Last month, a gunman opened fire on concertgoers in Las Vegas, turning an evening of music into a killing field. All told, the shooter used multiple assault rifles fitted with bump-fire stocks to kill 58 people. The concert venue looked like a warzone.
- Over the weekend in Sutherland Springs, 26 were killed by a gunman with an assault rifle. The dead ranged from 17 months old to 77 years. No one is spared with these weapons of war. When so many rounds are fired so quickly, no one is spared. Another community devastated and dozens of families left to pick up the pieces.
“These are just a few of the many communities we talk about in hushed tones—San Bernardino, Littleton, Aurora, towns and cities across the country that have been permanently scarred.
“And the numbers continue to grow. Between 1988 and 1997, 125 were killed in 18 mass shootings. The next decade, 1998 to 2007, 171 were killed in 21 mass shootings. And over the last 10 years, 2008 to 2017, 437 were killed in 50 mass shootings.
“That’s 89 mass shootings in the last 30 years that snuffed out the lives of more than 700 people. Additionally, many police officers killed in the line of duty are killed by assault weapons, including 1 in 5 officers killed in 2014.
After each shooting, we’re told it’s not the right time to act. We’re told to respect the victims by sitting on our hands. Well, the time for inaction is over.”
- Bans the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of 205 military-style assault weapons by name. Owners may keep existing weapons.
- Bans any assault 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. Owners may keep existing weapons.
- 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. Owners may keep existing magazines.
Exemptions to bill
- The bill exempts by name more than 2,200 guns for hunting, household defense or recreational purposes.
- The bill includes a grandfather clause that exempts all weapons lawfully possessed at the date of enactment.
- Requires a background check on any future sale, trade or gifting of an assault weapon covered by the bill.
- Requires that grandfathered assault weapons are stored using a secure gun storage or safety device like a trigger lock.
- Prohibits the transfer of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
- Bans bump-fire stocks and other devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at fully automatic rates.
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