Month: February 2018

165 House Dems introduce ban on most semi-auto firearms

Democrats in the U.S. House on Monday kicked off a renewed effort to prohibit a number of popular gun designs from civilian ownership.

Proposed by U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-RI, and joined by 164 co-sponsors from his party, H.R.5087, would not only recycle the expired federal ban on “assault weapons” but greatly expand its scope. The lawmaker argues it is needed to end the “carnage” on America’s streets.

“Assault weapons were made for one purpose,” Cicilline said. “They are designed to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time. They do not belong in our communities.”

The bill, one of the most ambitious bans proposed in recent years, would bar the importation, production, or transfer of 205 firearms by name to include a myriad of semi-auto AR-15 and AK-47 variants. Going past that, any semi-auto rifle with a detachable magazine and any “military-style feature” such as a barrel shroud, pistol grip or threaded barrel, would be caught in the net.

Additionally, a semi-auto shotgun with any feature or the capability to hold more than five shells would be forbidden. Rifles, other than .22s, with an internal magazine capable of holding more than 10-rounds, would be banned. Pistols affected would include any with a threaded barrel or a magazine well located in any spot except the grip. All belt-fed semi-automatic firearms, typically expensive niche guns popular with collectors but rarely used in crime, would be outlawed.

The bill also includes language to ban bump stocks, and detachable magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. It would authorize federal funding through Byrne grants for “buy back” programs to purchase unwanted newly classified assault weapons and magazines from the public. Those with grandfathered items would be licensed under the act, with fees set by the Justice Department, and could only transfer them to another individual with a license or to a gun dealer. Grandfathered magazines would have to be dated prior to the act becoming effective.

The National Rifle Association said lawmakers pushing new firearm regulations in the wake of a school shooting in Florida are “attempting to capitalize on this tragedy to convince members of Congress to vote for their gun control wish list.”

The bill has been referred to the Republican-controlled House Committee on the Judiciary. The GOP holds a commanding 238-193 majority in the chamber and Speaker Paul Ryan, who would have to allow a floor vote on the measure if it escaped committee, has repeatedly said that bans have not proven to be successful in the past.

Democrats in the U.S. House on Monday kicked off a renewed effort to prohibit a number of popular gun designs from civilian ownership.

Source: 165 House Dems introduce ban on most semi-auto firearms

Is This the Moment for Gun Control? A Gridlocked Congress Is Under Pressure – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers will return to Washington on Monday facing intense public pressure to break their decades-long gridlock on gun control, a demand fortified by a bipartisan group of governors calling for Congress to take action to protect against mass shootings.

But even as members of both parties said it might be difficult for Congress to remain on the sidelines after the school massacre this month in Parkland, Fla., lawmakers have no clear consensus on even incremental changes to gun restrictions, let alone more sweeping legislation.

Over a weeklong recess, Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate remained largely silent on gun legislation, a reflection of the significant obstacles to passing even modest measures this year.

Many Republicans fear primary challenges from the right in the midterm elections this fall and do not want to be pushed into difficult votes. Democrats are not eager for legislation that they deem too incremental. And with lawmakers of both parties looking to wrap up their work to focus on their campaigns for re-election, the time to pass any significant legislation is running short.

If the past is prologue, Congress will do nothing.

But governors who gathered in Washington for their annual winter meeting warned of the perils of inaction. Animated by a wave of polling since the Florida massacre, Democratic governors warned that candidates would pay a political price for opposing new gun regulations, and some of their Republican counterparts conceded that the pleas of voters could no longer be ignored as they increasingly abandon the party.

“I think for Republicans our challenge in the next race is going to be about appealing to the suburban vote that hasn’t been so good for Republicans the last few races,” said Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, citing in particular suburban women. It is clear, he added, that “people want to see action.”

The combination of political pressure from the governors and moves by President Trump to embrace certain limited measures opposed by the National Rifle Association could set up a congressional showdown with the powerful firearms lobby not seen since the gun debate that followed the deadly school shooting in 2012 in Newtown, Conn.

The sudden focus on guns is likely to complicate an already busy agenda. Congress left Washington without coming up with a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation and expires next week. A contentious debate over gun legislation could push immigration to the back burner.

While the Newtown massacre and the many that have followed have produced familiar scenes in which Democrats push for tough new gun restrictions and Republicans dig in and resist, the latest mass shooting appears to have shifted the landscape, even if just slightly, as the Parkland students have become overnight gun control advocates and media fixtures.

A smattering of congressional Republicans — including some who have been staunchly opposed to gun control legislation — now suggest that they would be willing to take at least small steps toward restricting gun rights.

After being jeered at a forum televised on CNN, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said last week that he would reconsider his opposition to limiting high-capacity magazines. Another Florida Republican, Representative Brian Mast, an Army veteran who lost both of his legs to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, called for a ban on the purchase of assault weapons.

Gun control advocates are looking toward the changing political climate in Florida, where the Republican governor, Rick Scott, and state lawmakers defied the N.R.A. in proposing to raise to 21 the minimum age to buy any firearm.

Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, is teaming up with Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, on legislation that would raise to 21 from 18 the age threshold for purchasing assault weapons like the AR-15 used to kill 17 people in Parkland.

poll released by CNN on Sunday, which showed support for stricter gun laws at levels not seen since the early 1990s, found that 71 percent of Americans backed barring those under 21 from buying any type of firearm.

“I don’t know if crossing the Rubicon is the right historical analogy, but there is a sense that this is different,” Mr. Flake said, adding, “Where the public is and where some Republicans have been on some of these issues just doesn’t match, and I do think we’re going to have to deal with it.”

Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, a longtime ally of the N.R.A., has said he would back such an age-restriction proposal. “Certainly nobody under 21 should have an AR-15,” he told reporters in Kansas last week.

Mr. Flake, however, is not seeking re-election, and Mr. Roberts, 81, is unlikely to run again in 2020.

At the governors’ meeting, there was agreement on the issue between Democrats and some Republicans. “We do it for alcohol; we’re talking about raising the age for tobacco to 21,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert of Utah, a Republican. “I think that’s worth talking about.”

Lawmakers have no clear consensus on even incremental changes to gun restrictions, let alone more sweeping legislation.

Source: Is This the Moment for Gun Control? A Gridlocked Congress Is Under Pressure – The New York Times

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