After an at times uproarious all-day session, the Democrat-controlled U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday marked up a federal "assault weapons ban" for the first time since 1994.

Although the passage of the legislation by the panel was always seen as certain, the Committee held a marathon 12-hour hearing – complete with lots of carefully-produced visual aids and the removal of a vocal anti-gun activist – before approving the bill 25-to-18, with every Republican present voting "no." The bill now heads to the House floor for further consideration.

The GOP minority on the committee at one point raised a "Shall Not Be Infringed" sign during debate. All voted against the bill. 

The 126-page Assault Weapons Ban of 2021 (H.R. 1808), has 213 Dems signed on as sponsors in the 438-seat chamber. It would outlaw the import, sale, manufacture, or transfer of:

  • All semi-automatic rifles that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one of the following cosmetic "military" features: (1) pistol grip; (2) forward grip; (3) folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; (4) grenade launcher; (5) barrel shroud; or (6) threaded barrel.
  • All semi-automatic rifles with a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
  • Bump fire stocks and any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory that is designed or functions to "accelerate the rate of fire" of a semi-automatic rifle. 
  • All semi-automatic pistols that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one of the following "military" features: (1) threaded barrel; (2) second pistol grip; (3) barrel shroud; (4) capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip; or (5) semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm.
  • All semi-automatic shotguns that have at least one of the following (1) a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; (2) pistol grip; (3) a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 5 rounds; (4) the ability to accept a detachable magazine; (5) forward grip; (6) grenade launcher; or (7) a shotgun with a revolving cylinder.
  • "High capacity feeding devices" (magazines, strips, and drums) that are capable of accepting more than 10 rounds. This is even though, for millions of guns, the standard magazine capacity is 30 rounds. Even for pistols, one of the most common handguns sold over the past 35 years, the Glock 17, has a standard magazine capacity of 17 rounds.

Pointing out the folly

Republicans on the panel repeatedly pointed out that the ban's language is often unworkable and illogical. U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, was especially on point during the hearing.

Massie pointed out that the bill publicized for banning "weapons of war" actually went after the more than 24 million legally-owned semi-auto sporting rifles in circulation while excepting such actual former military arms, such as the M1 Garand and SKS, despite both using a more powerful round than the AR-15.

In another redress, Massie pointed out the contradictions in the bill that allowed a Ruger Mini 14 and its barreled receiver in one section, then banned the same gun in another based on cosmetic appearance.

At the end of the day, even though the largest press bureau in the country came out this week and disavowed the use of the term as being incorrect and unnecessarily polarizing, Dems on Capitol Hill are pushing the largest "assault weapon" ban ever seen and are making progress.

It seems the "historic" Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a $10 billion social spending and gun control measure that swept Congress in record time with the help of 29 Republicans, in the end, bought less than a one-month reprieve from the passage of new anti-gun measures.

revolver barrel loading graphic