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3 senators introduce ‘assault weapons’ ban for 205 guns, high-capacity magazines

An M4A1 rifle. (MaxPixel/Released)
January 10, 2019

Three Democratic senators have introduced a bill titled the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2019,” which, if passed into law, would ban 205 “military-style assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Senators Dianne Feinstein, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal introduced the measure on Wednesday. It’s a proposed update to the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017.

While gun owners would be permitted to keep existing firearms and magazines, the bill would ban “the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of 205 military-style assault weapons by name,” according to a press release.

The bill would also ban firearms that can have “a detachable ammunition magazine” or that have “one or more military characteristics including a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel, or a folding or telescoping stock,” the release states.

Additionally, the bill would ban magazines or other feeding devices that can hold more than 10 rounds. The press release describes the devices as anything that would “allow shooters to quickly fire many rounds without needing to reload.”

According to the release, more than 2,200 firearms that are used for “hunting, household defense or recreation purposes” would be exempt from the ban.

The bill would include a clause that grandfathers legally owned weapons at the date of enactment, the release said.

There are proposed updates to the current legislation, as well, including a required background check “on any future sale, trade or gifting of an assault weapon covered by the bill.”

The bill would also require citizens to store any grandfathered firearms a certain way, requiring that “grandfathered assault weapons [be] stored using a secure gun storage or safety device like a trigger lock.”

The bill would also prohibit the transfer of high-capacity magazines, in addition to banning bump stocks “and other devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at fully automatic rates.”

In December, President Trump followed through on his vow to ban bump stock gun accessories under a separate federal law, which was signed by the acting Attorney General and is expected to go into effect in late March.

The Second Amendment advocacy group Gun Owners of America announced shortly after that it would file legal action against the government – specifically the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) – in response to the ban, which it did.

The bump stock accessories would be banned under the same law that bans machine guns, a Justice Department official had told the Associated Press. To comply with the ban, those who own bump stocks would be forced to turn them over to the ATF or destroy them, the DOJ official told AP.

The ban effectively reverses the ATF’s decision from 2010 that deemed bump stocks different from machine guns and unable to be subjected to the same regulation as machine guns.

Unlike the internal mechanisms of a machine gun that permit high rates of automatic fire in rapid bursts, a bump stock is an accessory that is affixed externally to a semi-automatic gun. Without changing the internal components, a bump stock uses the gun’s recoil to then “bump” the gun back against the user’s finger, causing another round to fire.

A bump stock does not change a semi-automatic gun’s ability to shoot one bullet per trigger pull, whereas a machine gun fires a rapid burst of bullets per single trigger pull. Instead, a bump stock enables the trigger to be pulled quickly, simulating a higher rate of fire than a user can typically achieve with the unaided action of their finger.

According to the release from the Democratic senators this week, the following are updates to the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017:

  • Bans stocks that are “otherwise foldable or adjustable in a manner that operates to reduce the length, size or any other dimension, or otherwise enhances the concealability of a firearm.”
  • Bans assault pistols that weigh 50 or more ounces when unloaded, a policy included in the original 1994 ban.
  • Bans assault pistol stabilizing braces that transform assault pistols into assault rifles by allowing the shooter to shoulder the weapon and fire more accurately.
  • Bans Thordsen-type grips and stocks that are designed to evade a ban on assault weapons.

Several other Democrats are cosponsoring the bill, including: senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).