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Democrats in new Congress renew push for assault weapons ban

Dianne Feinstein
Posted at 12:29 PM, Jan 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-24 12:29:47-05

In response to Saturday’s mass shooting that left 11 people dead at a California dance hall, Senate Democrats introduced a pair of bills to tighten gun laws in the U.S.

With 60 votes needed to break a filibuster in the Senate and Democrats no longer holding a majority in the House, the bills are expected to go nowhere.

While there are varying definitions of assault weapons, they generally include semi-automatic rifles with a detachable magazine and pistol grip. These types of firearms have been used in numerous mass shootings in recent years.

Proposals to ban assault weapons have been introduced in previous congressional terms following mass shootings. While Democrats could not pass some of its loftiest proposals, Congress passed bipartisan gun legislation last year following the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers.

The 2022 bill included funds for states to implement red flag laws, family mental health spending, getting rid of the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by including those convicted of domestic abuse in background checks and funding for school-based mental health programs.

The newest proposals would ban the sale and manufacturing of various “military” assault weapons. It would not penalize current owners of such weapons. It also would require a background check on any sale or trade of assault weapons and require that assault weapons are secured with a safety device when stored.

A separate bill would raise the age to purchase an assault rifle from 18 to 21.

“We were tragically reminded this weekend of the deadly nature of assault weapons when a shooter used one to kill 11 people and injure nine more at a Lunar New Year celebration in California,” said Senator Feinstein. “The constant stream of mass shootings have one common thread: they almost all involve assault weapons. It’s because these weapons were designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible. They have no business in our communities or schools,” said Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif.