WASHINGTON – Democratic politicians introduced a bill to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines at a news conference that quickly took an emotional turn.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein,D-Calif.,led a coalition to create the bill,which would prohibit the sale,transfer,importation and manufacture of 157 assault weapons,including all semiautomatic rifles and pistols that accept a detachable magazine and have at least one military feature. The bill would ban magazines,strips and drums that can accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Feinstein said she would introduce the bill at a Senate session Thursday.
Several coalition members,including senators,mayors and law enforcement officials,delivered emotional speeches at the conference.
Some politicians said the December shooting in Newtown,Conn. – in which 20 children,ages 6 and 7,and six adults were killed – was the tipping point for them.
Supporters in the room cheered as Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey spoke.
“If the slaughter of 20 babies doesn’t wake you up,then I give up,because I don’t know what will,” said Ramsey,the former D.C. police chief. “We need reasonable gun control in this country,or guess what,it will happen again.”
Feinstein,who helped pass the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994,said she knows passing the bill will be a challenge,but she wants to try.
“It depends on America and the courage of Americans,” she said.
Feinstein said the legislation does not apply to 2,258 rifles and shotguns used for hunting and sporting.
The bill would enforce background checks on all transfers of assault weapons,grandfather guns people already own,require that weapons be stored securely and prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines currently in existence.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer,D-N.Y.,said the Second Amendment has to have limitations the same way the First Amendment does.
“We do not have an inalienable right to own and operate 100-round clips,” he said.
Omar Samaha,whose younger sister,Reema Samaha,died in the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007,said he is in favor of a ban on assault weapons.
“It devastated my family,” he said. “We support this legislation,and we know many other Americans who have been through this support it as well.”
Reach reporter Jasmine Aguilera at [email protected] or 202-326-9866. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.