On Wednesday, House Democrats made their latest push to restrict the sale, transfer, and production of certain firearms with the introduction of the Assault Weapons Ban 2015 bill.
The bill seeks to renew the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was authored by staunch pro-gun control Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and signed by then President Bill Clinton. Feinstein and her supporters have made several attempts to renew the ban in recent years, especially after the 2012 Newtown shooting, but have been unable to do so due to public opposition to more gun control laws. The Assault Weapons Ban 2015 would bring back many provisions of the previous ban, including restrictions on 157 specifically listed firearms.
“There is no place for dangerous, military-style assault weapons on the streets of America,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said in a press release. “Since the federal assault weapons ban lapsed in 2004, tens of thousands of people have been killed by high-powered, high-capacity firearms in communities across our country.”
Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the legislation on Wednesday along with 123 other co-sponsors. Supporters of the bill pointed to recent events in San Bernardino and Colorado Springs as motivation for the ban, calling the violence an “epidemic” driven by weapons designed for combat.
“Since 2011, the frequency of mass shootings has increased by a factor of three. And according to one study, more than half of all mass shooters used an assault weapon, a gun with a military-style feature, or a high-capacity magazine. The sole purpose of these types of weapons is to kill as many people as quickly as possible,” said Cicilline. “It is unconscionable that we continue to allow military-style weapons to be bought and sold while mass shootings are growing more common. This bill is an important first step that will restore some sanity to the way we treat guns in the United States.”
Gun owners who already have firearms banned by the bill would be able to keep them, but selling or transferring the guns would be vastly more difficult. The ban would also prohibit companies from manufacturing or importing the listed firearms, as well as semiautomatic rifles and handguns with so-called “military style features” that can accept detachable magazines, firearms with a fixed magazine capable of carrying more than 10 rounds, and certain semiautomatic shotguns.
It should be noted that many semiautomatic firearms have detachable magazines, including the wildly popular AR-15.
In addition, the Assault Weapons Ban 2015 bill also sets new standards to expand background checks. Lawmakers say the bill will close the “Charleston Loophole,” which allows firearm dealers to sell guns if a buyer’s background check is not completed within three days. The bill will extend that period to 14 days if the firearm is listed as an “assault weapon.”
However, all that will only come to pass if the bill is signed into law. Political experts say that the bill has a slim chance of passing the Republican-controlled House.