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.