Just a week after President Obama called on Congress to enact meaningful gun safety reforms, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today joined Senate Democrats in introducing legislation that bans dangerous military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
There has not been a federal ban on assault weapons since 2004, when a 10-year ban signed into law by President Clinton expired. Since that expiration, 37% of police departments reported seeing a noticeable increase in criminals' use of assault weapons.
"I am proud to join with Senator Feinstein and Senate Democrats in a push to get assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off of our streets and limit their use to what was intended: war. Weapons which have a sole purpose of maximizing carnage and death do not belong in our communities," said Senator Menendez. "I hope my Republican colleagues will stand up to the NRA and join us in righting the wrong of Congress when we allowed the assault weapons ban to expire in 2004."
Menendez added: "While a ban on military-style weapons is critical, we must address how we deal with those who suffer with mental illnesses in our society. No more politics. No more excuses. No more Newtowns. We cannot allow this sort of senseless violence to continue."
Senator Menendez has consistently supported common sense legislation to curb gun violence. Menendez has co-sponsored legislation to outlaw high capacity clips, close the "gun show loophole" and require everyone at gun shows to undergo background checks, and improve the quality of background checks by encouraging states and federal agencies to submit records to the National Instant Criminal System. He also previously sponsored legislation to restore full access to the crime gun trace data for law enforcement.
Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) Assault Weapons Regulatory Act of 2013 has 16 co-sponsors: Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
In addition, the legislation has been endorsed by a range of law enforcement organizations, clergy, gun violence victims, and doctors including: International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Moms Rising, American College of Surgeons, and the American Bar Association.
Summary of the Feinstein Assault Weapons Regulatory Act of 2013:
Two principal goals:
First, the bill prohibits the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of more than 150 of the most commonly-owned military-style assault weapons. It also bans an additional group of assault weapons that can accept a detachable ammunition magazine and have one or more military characteristics.
Second, the bill bans large-capacity magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. These devices allow shooters to fire numerous rounds in rapid succession without having to stop and reload.
The legislation also protects the rights of law-abiding citizens who use guns for hunting, household defense or legitimate recreational purposes. The Assault Weapons Ban includes a grandfather clause that specifically exempts all assault weapons lawfully possessed at the date of enactment from the ban. The legislation also excludes:
More than 2,200 legitimate hunting and sporting rifles by specific make and model;
Any gun manually operated by bolt, pump, lever or slide action; and
Weapons used by government officials, law enforcement and retired law enforcement.
Other key provisions in the bill:
Requires background checks on all future transfers of assault weapons covered by the legislation, including sale, trade and gift.
Requires that grandfathered assault weapons be stored safely using a secure gun storage or safety device in order to keep them away from prohibited persons.
Prohibits the sale or transfer of high-capacity ammunition feeding devices that are currently in existence.
The full text of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 as well as additional background information is available on Senator Feinstein's website at feinstein.senate.gov/assaultweapons.