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Senate Considers Legislation to Severely Limit Handgun Ownership

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Dianne Feinstein (Dem. – CA) will be introducing expansive gun control legislation when the Senate begins its first day of the 2013 session. The bill takes aim at so-called “assault” weapons which actually covers a broad spectrum of firearms including handguns and semiautomatic rifles.

The senator seized on the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut to make the following statement on December 13th:

“As I have said many times before—and now repeat in the wake of yet another tragedy—weapons of war don’t belong on our streets or in our theaters, shopping malls and, most of all, our schools. I hope and trust that in the next session of Congress there will be sustained and thoughtful debate about America’s gun culture and our responsibility to prevent more loss of life.”

Feinstein followed that with this promise on December 17th:

“On the first day of the new Congress, I intend to introduce a bill stopping the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of assault weapons as well as large ammunition magazines, strips and drums that hold more than 10 rounds,” Feinstein said. “I am in the process of gathering support for the bill in the Senate and House.”

“I have been working with my staff for over a year on this legislation,” Feinstein added. “It will be carefully focused on the most dangerous guns that have killed so many people over the years while protecting the rights of gun owners by exempting hundreds of weapons that fall outside the bill’s scope. We must take these dangerous weapons of war off our streets.”

Now she is following through on that promise by posting the bill she plans to introduce on her official web site. A summary of the proposed legislation includes:

  • Banning the sales, transfer, importation, and manufacturing of 120 specifically-named firearms; certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and have one or more military characteristics; and semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds.
  • Strengthening the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and various state bans by: moving from a 2-characteristic test to a 1-characteristic test; eliminating the easy-to-remove bayonet mounts and flash suppressors from the characteristics test; and banning firearms with “thumbhole stocks” and “bullet buttons” to address attempts to “work around” prior bans.
  • Banning large-capacity ammunition feeding devices capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.
  • Protecting legitimate hunters and the rights of existing gun owners by grandfathering weapons legally possessed on the date of enactment, exempting over 900 specifically-named weapons used for hunting or sporting purposes, and exempting antique, manually-operated, and permanently disabled weapons.

The bill doesn’t, however, protect grandfathered weapons from further restrictions. Such weapons would still require new background check of owner and any transferee, type and serial number of the firearm, positive identification, including photograph and fingerprint, certification from local law enforcement of identity and that possession would not violate state or local law, and dedicated funding for ATF to implement registration.

In spite of the emphasis on weapons such as the AR-15 and 30-round magazines, the bill specifically goes after semi-automatic pistols that use a detachable magazine. In other words, just about anything besides a revolver could be included in such a bill. Weapons that fit the category of “semi-automatic” handguns include Glocks, Sig Sauers, Smith & Wesson M&Ps, and Colts.

Anyone who doubts that incidents like Sandy Hook are viewed as a way to get a foot in the door for the eventual removal of all handguns from citizens should think again.

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