US & World

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrats unveil bill to ban assault-style weapons

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-California.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-California.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

As they said they would following the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Democrats today unveiled legislation that would ban assault-style weapons.

The lead lawmaker, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, has summed up the legislation's key points this way:

"Bans the sale, transfer, importation, or manufacturing of:

"Strengthens the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and various state bans by:

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

"Protects legitimate hunters and the rights of existing gun owners by:

The Associated Press notes that "the measure faces long odds."

Last week, NPR's Brian Naylor spoke with former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, who was then-Sen. Joe Biden's chief of staff and a key player in the negotiations that led to the 1994 ban on assault-style weapons (which expired in 2004). Passage of such a bill now, Kaufman said, is "going to be much more difficult than 1994." Back then, 46 House Republicans supported the ban — "a total that's unimaginable now," Brian reported. Republicans control the House. President Obama's fellow Democrats control the Senate.

Feinstein told The Washington Post last week "I know it's an uphill battle, but that doesn't mean that on principle or conscience we shouldn't do it."

The White House has said it supports reinstating the ban. The National Rifle Association makes the case that the Second Amendment makes such legislation unconstitutional and that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

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