Emily Gets Her Gun

MILLER: National ‘assault weapon’ ban coming Thursday

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office confirmed that she will be introducing in the Senate Thursday a new version of the so-called assault weapon ban. A spokesman said the full text will be released at a press conference on Thursday. 

The California Democrat intends to expand on the ban that expired in 2004, by including handguns and shotguns, in addition to rifles. She would decrease from two to one the number of cosmetic features on a gun to have it be considered an “assault weapon.” This means that if a gun has just one item like a pistol grip or bayonet lug, then it is illegal. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the same ban in New York last week. 

Furthermore, instead of grandfathering in current firearms, she would create a national gun registry for the government to track lawful gun owners. Magazines would again be limited to 10 rounds. 

The Clinton-era bill was not renewed by Congress after the Federal Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement agencies reported that it was ineffective in reducing crime. 

President Obama said that a top priority is to get “an assault weapons ban that is meaningful” passed this year.   

A summary of Mrs. Feinstein’s legislation is below. 

Bans the sale, transfer, importation, or manufacturing of: 120 specifically-named firearms; certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and have one or more military characteristics; and semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds.

Strengthens the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and various state bans by: Moving from a 2-characteristic test to a 1-characteristic test; eliminating the easy-to-remove bayonet mounts and flash suppressors from the characteristics test; and banning firearms with “thumbhole stocks” and “bullet buttons” to address attempts to “work around” prior bans.

Bans large-capacity ammunition feeding devices capable of accepting more than 10 rounds. 

Protects legitimate hunters and the rights of existing gun owners by: Grandfathering weapons legally possessed on the date of enactment; exempting over 900 specifically-named weapons used for hunting or sporting purposes; and exempting antique, manually-operated, and permanently disabled weapons.

Requires that grandfathered weapons be registered under the National Firearms Act, to include: Background check of owner and any transferee; type and serial number of the firearm; positive identification, including photograph and fingerprint; certification from local law enforcement of identity and that possession would not violate State or local law; and dedicated funding for ATF to implement registration.

Emily Miller is senior editor of the opinion pages for The Washington Times. Her "Emily Gets Her Gun" series on the District's gun laws won the 2012 Clark Mollenhoff Award for Investigative Reporting from the Institute on Political Journalism. Click here to follow her on Twitter and Facebook. 

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