All of us, and especially the parents, are still reeling from the devastating massacre of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, CT. Most people want answers. Many people want action. And that’s just what California Senator Dianne Feinstein intends to do.
The 20-year veteran of the U.S. Senate announced Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press that she will introduce legislation to ban assault rifles on the first day of the 113th Congress, set for Jan. 3, 2013.
The 79-year-old Democrat, who is a long-time gun control advocate, also said she expects President Barack Obama to support renewed efforts to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. On the talk show two days after the shooting, she said:
[Obama] is going to have a bill to lead on, because as a first day bill, I am going to introduce in the Senate, and the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons. It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession — not retroactively, but prospectively. And it will ban the sale of big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets.
On Friday afternoon and again in his Saturday radio address, President Obama did seem prepared to provide leadership on this issue, saying we need to take “meaningful action” to address the unending violence. Later, the White House Press Secretary reasserted the same, saying that a federal assault weapons ban “remain[s] a commitment” of Obama’s.
Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…commentators and courts routinely explained that the right [to bear arms] was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.
Arguing for an assault weapons ban renewal, Sen. Feinstein has written:
A semiautomatic assault rifle with a 100-round ammo drum – or a handgun with a 30-round magazine like the one used to shoot former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona – has but one purpose: to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible.
Sandy Hill Elementary shooter Adam Lanza riddled his victims with bullets fired from a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, which is a military-style assault weapon and the same weapon used to murder 10 people in the D.C. sniper shootings of 2002 (pictured below).
Lanza’s assault rifle probably held at least 20-30 rounds at a time, according to information printed on the Bushmaster website.
James Holmes, who shot 12 people dead and wounded 58 others in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, also used a .223-caliber rifle; his had a 100-round ammunition drum. Feinstein’s July statement points out:
The manufacture and sale of these weapons, along with the 100-round drum, would have been prohibited under the assault weapons ban.
However, any movement on gun control is certain to face zealous opposition from the National Rifle Association, which boasted on Saturday via Twitter that Black Friday Gun Sales broke a record, a tweet that has since been removed from the gun lobby’s Twitter profile.
Feinstein has put plainly the undue pressure the NRA exerts:
“Commonsense measures to protect the American public have been stymied by a powerful gun lobby that has a stranglehold on many in Congress.”
President Bill Clinton approved a federal ban on assault weapons in 1994, but it expired in 2004 under President George W. Bush, who supported the renewal but did not aggressively pursue it.
A grassroots petition to take up gun control has already garnered nearly 120,000 signatures on the White House citizen petition site.
NFL Players displayed leadership on gun control in the days following the suicide of the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker; seven players voluntarily surrendered their guns to team security personnel.
Here’s Feinstein on Meet the Press this morning: