Not to be outdone by gun control promoters in the House, a group of anti-gun senators released a new “assault weapons” ban earlier this week.
“Americans across the nation are asking Congress to reinstate the federal ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” reads a press release from sponsor Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. “If we’re going to put a stop to mass shootings and protect our children, we need to get these weapons of war off our streets.”
Legislative text still wasn’t available at the time of this writing, but a first look at some of the outlined portions of it shows that it would be about as effective at curbing gun violence as Feinstein’s 1994 weapons ban (which wasn’t).
Since the term “assault weapon” has no intrinsic meaning either in the gun world or the legal world, the definition means whatever the anti-gun politician using it wants it to mean. So what makes something an “assault weapon” in this case?
The bill “bans any assault weapon that accepts a detachable magazine and has one or more military characteristics including a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock.”
So the bill wouldn’t outright ban all semi-automatic weapons (as some have already suggested); rather, it would just affect semi-automatics that have certain features, most of which are aesthetic or ergonomic in nature and none of which affect how the gun itself fires. They’re all also features typically found on a modern sporting rifle (known as an AR-15), which has been the anti-gun crowd’s big boogeyman for the last few years.
But those features can look pretty scary if you don’t know what you’re looking at. That’s why we put together the Firepower 101 series last spring.
Want to crush gun-grabbing trolls? Watch …
Posted by Capitol Hill Brief on Wednesday, March 7, 2018
According to the press release, the legislation would also ban so-called “assault pistols,” which are defined as handguns that weigh over 50 ounces unloaded. If that sounds obtuse and silly, it’s because it is. Weight itself doesn’t necessarily make a gun more dangerous. A violent gangbanger or armed robber can do a lot more damage with a light, compact semi-automatic handgun than an antique flintlock pistol.
It also would ban pistol stabilizing braces that magically “transform assault pistols into assault rifles” because they allow shooters to “fire more accurately.” Of course, if accuracy was what made something an “assault weapon,” stabilized pistols aren’t really where someone would want to start banning. Hunting and competition rifles are designed to be far more accurate.
It also bans magazines and other “ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds,” but current owners would be able to keep their existing magazines. This, of course, would do little more than put law-abiding gun owners at a disadvantage against non-compliant criminals who still won’t have to reload as often when committing violent crimes.
However, to give credit where credit is due, the bill would exempt all guns and magazines affected by the legislation that are lawfully owned at the time of passage. That would seem like a fairly obvious exception to include, but the Trump administration’s recent bump stock ban didn’t even allow that.
Feinstein has introduced this bill into a Senate with a 53-47 Republican majority, so it’s pretty much just for show until either that math changes or something motivates 13 Republicans to go along with it.