By Neil Bomberg
Last week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced at a public event in the Capitol that she was introducing a bill that same day to ban the sale and manufacture of assault weapons, as well as magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
As she spoke, Sen. Feinstein was surrounded by colleagues from the Senate and House, victims of crime violence, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Chief of Police Charles Ramsey. Behind the speakers were pegboards holding various types of assault rifles including the type used in Newtown, CT, where twenty children and 6 adults were killed.
If adopted into law, S.150, "a bill to regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes" would ban the sale and manufacture of 120 specifically named firearms, semiautomatic firearms that can accept a detachable magazine and converted into an automatic weapon, and semiautomatic firearms with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds.
Sen. Feinstein emphasized that - if passed - the bill would protect legitimate hunters and the rights of existing gun owners by grandfathering those weapons that were legally obtained on or before the date of enactment, exempting over 900 weapons that are used for hunting or sporting purposes, and exempting antique, manually-operated, and permanently disabled weapons.
The National League of Cities (NLC) issued a statement supporting the legislation saying, "NLC shares Senator Feinstein's goal of keeping deadly assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices off the streets of America's cities and towns, and endorses this legislation. Further, we hope that both the Senate and House will move quickly to pass this bill aimed at addressing the gun violence epidemic that plagues our country."
While lauding Sen. Feinstein for her commitment to ending gun violence, NLC also asked Congress to adopt a comprehensive strategy that includes mental health services and crime prevention, and stops any interference with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive's ability to combat illegal gun trafficking.
Sen. Feinstein spoke strongly and passionately about the need to end gun violence as she described the legislation's purpose. "Enough is enough," she said, a refrain that was heard over and over from all of the speakers. Now is the time "to dry up the supply of assault rifles that have no place in our communities."
Philadelphia Police Chief Ramsey wondered aloud "what purpose an assault weapon has on city streets other than to kill lots of people in a matter of seconds." "Less than 30 seconds to kill 26 people," was a constant refrain from members of Congress, who spoke about the tragedy in Newtown.
Details: For more information on NLC's firearms and ammunition policy click here. To learn more about Sen. Feinstein's assault weapons ban visit her website. To read Sen. Feinstein's bill, or to track the legislation through the Senate, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php and enter S.150 in the "Search Bill Summary & Status" box.