Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was joined by Mayor Michael Nutter and a broad coalition of federal, state and local lawmakers; members of law enforcement; the clergy; and community leaders as she introduced a bill banning assault weapons.
The measure, Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, would ban the sales of military-style assault rifles and high capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Feinstein was the author of the first assault weapons ban that was allowed to expire under the Bush administration in 2004 allegedly behind pressure from the National Rifle Association. Feinstein said she has no illusions, and that the measure faces a stiff uphill fight in Washington.
“The bill introduced today is the product of more than a year of work, with input from across the country,” Feinstein said in a press release. “Getting this bill signed into law will be an uphill battle, and I recognize that — but it’s a battle worth having. We must balance the desire of a few to own military-style assault weapons with the growing threat to lives across America. If 20 dead children in Newtown wasn’t a wake-up call that these weapons of war don’t belong on our streets, I don’t know what is.”
Nutter, who has been pushing for stronger gun laws in Philadelphia, also spoke during Feinstein’s announcement, saying stricter gun laws are needed now.
“Again and again and again, Americans have been stunned by senseless acts of violence involving assault weapons and large-capacity magazines: Columbine, April 1999, 13 murdered; Virginia Tech, April 2007, 32 murdered; Tucson, January 2011, 6 murdered, 12 wounded including one Congresswoman; Aurora, July 2012, 12 murdered; Oak Creek, August 2012, 6 murdered. The December 14 tragedy, which killed 20 young children and six educators in Newtown, remains incomprehensible to us all. Too many times during the last year, mayors have expressed shock at a mass shooting. Even more frequently, many of us must cope with the gun violence that occurs on the streets of our cities,” said Nutter, who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Weapons of mass destruction are destroying our communities, our streets and our families. The first police officer we lost after I became mayor was killed by an AK-47. Citizens have been killed on Philadelphia’s streets by handguns with high capacity magazines as well as assault rifles. This needs to end now.”
The new proposal would ban the manufacture, sale, transfer and importing of over 150 military-style assault weapons owned by gun enthusiasts. It would also ban an additional group of firearms that can use detachable magazines and prohibit large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The legislation would protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens who use guns for hunting, household defense or legitimate recreational purposes. The Assault Weapons Ban on 2013 includes a grandfather clause that exempts all assault weapons lawfully possessed at the date of enactment from the ban. The legislation also requires background checks on transfers of assault weapons covered by the legislation, including sale, trade and gift.
“I believe this bill is a big step toward ending the mass shootings that have devastated families across the country,” Feinstein said. “It’s time for Americans to stand up and tell the gun manufacturers that the lives of our children are more important than their profits and get these dangerous weapons out of our schools, our workplaces, our malls and our theaters. It’s time to take action and we’ll get it done, no matter how long it takes.”
The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 is among a series of measures being proposed by the Obama Administration after the Sandy Hook massacre.
The senator’s announcement came one day after a protest in Harrisburg where gun control activists, community leaders and those victimized in some way by gun violence called for stricter gun control laws in Pennsylvania.
The protest, called Day of Action to Fight Gun Violence, was spearheaded by CeaseFirePA and was part of a coalition of Pennsylvania mayors, law enforcement officials, community organizations and those directly impacted by gun violence. Protestors were calling on Governor Tom Corbett to enact stricter gun laws.
“To change the status quo, we must make our voices heard. That’s what Pennsylvania mayors, teachers, students, parents, faith leaders and victims of gun violence did today. And it’s what Pennsylvanians must and will continue to do until we achieve meaningful reform,” said CeaseFirePA’s executive director Shira Goodman in a press release.
CeaseFirePA is also calling on Pennsylvania lawmakers to enact laws that would require background checks for all gun sales and ammunition sales, a statewide requirement that gun owners report lost or stolen guns to the police and a ban on military-style semi-automatic assault weapons and high capacity magazines.
“The governor and the legislature need a reason to act,” Goodman said. “We must give it to them. They must hear our voices every day, in letters, emails and visits. We must make clear that this call to action will be ongoing until we see real change. Together, the people of Pennsylvania must demand action. Together, we are an unstoppable force, and our children are depending on us to make our voices heard.”
Larry Miller is a Crime Reporter for The Philadelphia Tribune. Contact Larry at firstname.lastname@example.org