It has been a personal battle for Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who was the first to hear shots and call police in 1978, when the first gay city official, Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by a disgruntled former employee. When she entered the bloody scene and she said it changed her view on gun control forever.
Feinstein proposed the first assault weapon ban that was adopted in 1994, but expired in 2004, and control legislation was not seriously addressed again until 20 children and 6 educators were gunned down with a semi-automatic military-style assault weapon at Sandy Hook Elementary.
On Thursday, in response to President Barack Obama’s promise to reform gun laws after Sandy Hook, Sen. Feinstein and a group of Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill that would limit ammunition clips to 10 rounds and prohibit the sale and manufacture of 150 types of semiautomatic weapons with “military-style” features.
Feinstein proposed that people who already own such weapons would be required to secure them and use safety devices, while banning them from reselling any associated high-capacity clips.
“No weapon is taken from anyone,” said Feinstein, as reported by The Hill. “The purpose is to dry up the supply of these weapons over time. We must balance the desire of a few to own military-style assault weapons with the growing threat to lives across America.”
According to The Hill, Feinstein and her group introduced the bill at a press conference with law-enforcement groups that support the legislation. Groups endorsing the bill include the US Conference of Mayors, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Police Foundation and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
Feinstein, who also sponsored the 1994 ban, acknowledged the bill would face stiff opposition in Congress, since the white-hot issue has been the subject of heated discussions since Sandy Hook prompted the president to take action.
Vice President Joe Biden spent a week meeting with industry leaders, including the National Rifle Association, video-game makers and leaders in the movie industry before offering a list of proposals to President Obama.
“Getting this bill signed into law will be an uphill battle, and I recognize that—but it’s a battle worth having,” Feinstein said Thursday. “We must balance the desire of a few to own military-style assault weapons with the growing threat to lives across America.”
The ban includes a grandfather clause to exempt current lawfully owned assault weapons. But any sale of such weapons would require a background check.
The NRA was quick to respond and bash the effort, issuing a statement indicating they will lobby to block passage of the ban. The NRA has been radically instrumental in ginning up protest against what they characterize as an assault on the Second Amendment.
“Sen. Feinstein has been trying to ban guns from law-abiding citizens for decades,” said NRA’s David Keene in a statement. “It's disappointing but not surprising that she is once again focused on curtailing the Constitution instead of prosecuting criminals or fixing our broken mental health system. The American people know gun bans do not work and we are confident Congress will reject Senator Feinstein's wrong-headed approach.”
Nonetheless, Obama made it clear that his aim was not to take guns away from lawful owners, sportsmen or hunters and he reaffirmed his support of the Second Amendment in his address to the country after Sandy Hook.
The law is designed to evade loopholes that were present in the 1994 ban, but Feinstein emphasized that her bill will not impact hunting and sports rifles.
White House spokesman, Jay Carney told reporters Thursday it will be difficult to win congressional passage for some of the president’s proposals on gun control but that "doesn't mean that we should not work aggressively to achieve them. There's broad public support for taking action."
Feinstein’s bill has no Republican support and some Democrats have been loath to enter the uphill battle against a mountain of NRA propaganda that asserts any attempt to limit assault weapons is an attack on the Second Amendment.
Click here for a list of 150 weapons included in the ban proposal.