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A Vote Smart Guide to the Assault Weapons Ban

31 January 2013

Oren Samet-Marram is a Research and VoteEasy Associate here at Project Vote Smart.  A graduate of Princeton University, he joined the organization in 2012. 

Recently, something called an “assault weapons ban” has been making major news. While you've likely heard of it, you might still have a few questions about the issue and its history. The new “assault weapons ban” is a proposal from some national politicians aimed at curbing gun violence. It can be hard to understand the issue itself with all of the political posturing, so if you want to know more, check out  We're sorting through the partisan rhetoric and getting you the facts. Our resources, include public statements, legislation summaries, endorsements, and provide a great overview. Here's a quick summary of the issue, including links to relevant info on our site:

Shortly after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) pledged to introduce legislation similar to the '94 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004. See what she had to say on December 30th. Feinstein was the sponsor of the original amendment instituting a ten-year ban on such firearms back in 1994. Read a summary of that legislation here.

President Obama endorsed the idea early last week by including it in his recommendations for addressing gun violence. To see the full recommendations, including his specific endorsement of a new “assault weapons ban,” check out his remarks from January 16th. The endorsement comes despite the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence giving President Obama an "F" on the section of their 2009 "Gun Violence Prevention Score Card" relating to support for a new “assault weapons ban.”

This week, Senator Feinstein officially introduced a bill to ban over 150 different types of weapons. Check it out here, and keep your eye out for our Key Votes summary coming soon!

Now, not every Senator is supportive of the proposal. Senator Daniel Coats (R-IN) had this to say on the day President Obama unveiled his proposals. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) expressed similar sentiments – check it out.

Interest groups have a stake as well. See how the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence scored current members of the Senate who might have an opportunity to vote on Senator Feinstein's legislation: NRA Ratings, Brady Campaign Ratings.

Wondering where your Senators stand on gun-related issues like this one? Search our Issue Positions records here and find out! We have both official candidate responses to our Political Courage Test as well as positions researched by Vote Smart staff.

And remember, there's tons more info just like this at Check it out! 


Related tags: blog, key-votes

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