After the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., promised to introduce a ban on the type of semiautomatic weapons frequently used in mass murders.In 2004, Congress failed to renew an old ban on certain semiautomatic weapons, which can be fired quickly because each round automatically reloads.
The ban’s opponents argue that it was so riddled with loopholes that it did little to keep so-called assault weapons off the streets. For example, the old law banned weapons with two or more “military-style characteristics,” so gun makers would simply remove these cosmetic features and remarket the assault rifles.
In response to criticism over the arguably flawed semiautomatic weapons law, Feinstein is introducing what The New York Times called in an editorial today “a tougher assault weapons ban.”
Here are some key ways Feinstein says her ban would be tougher than the old one:
- While the old law banned 18 specific types of weapons by name, Feinstein’s law would ban 120 specifically-named firearms.
- Unlike the old law, Feinstein’s proposal would ban semiautomatic weapons and handguns with fixed magazines that can accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition, effectively making it tougher for gunmen to shoot at large groups of people quickly.
- While Feinstein’s bill would “grandfather” in semiautomatic weapons made before the ban, people who have those weapons would have to undergo background checks. Currently, private sellers aren’t required to check backgrounds of people buying guns.
While Feinstein announced the proposed law right after the Newtown shootings, she said she and her staff have been working on the legislation for more than a year.