A sweeping bicameral effort in both chambers of Congress was announced on Monday with the approval of the White House to ban commonly-owned semi-auto firearms and their standard capacity magazines

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the 89-year-old California Democrat on her sixth controversial term in office, introduced the proposed new federal Assault Weapon Ban this week. The 126-page measure would ban the sale, transfer, manufacture, and importation of "military-style assault weapons" and "high-capacity magazines and other high-capacity ammunition feeding devices."

By "military-style assault weapons," the ban would impact any semi-automatic rifle that has a detachable magazine and a single "military characteristic" such as a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel, or a folding or telescoping stock. 

The proposal would arbitrarily label any detachable magazine capable of holding more than 10 cartridges as a "high-capacity magazine," despite the fact that for most semi-auto modern sporting rifles such as AR-15s and AK47 variants, of which over 24 million are in circulation, the standard magazine capacity is 30 rounds. To give an indication of just how common such rifles are, by comparison, it was estimated in 2021 that only 16.1 million Ford F-series trucks were driving around, which is America's most common truck on the road.

While prohibited guns and magazines currently in circulation would be grandfathered in, the bill requires that they be stored under lock and key. Any future sale, trade, or gifting would be subject to government review. 

The measure at introduction had 36 fellow Democrats signed on as co-sponsors in the Senate. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I) plans to introduce a companion version of the Assault Weapons Ban in the House of Representatives later this week. 

"We passed the assault weapons ban in the House last year with bipartisan support, which was then blocked by Senate Republicans," said Cicilline in a statement. "We need to come together to enact this commonsense, effective, and proven policy to reduce gun violence and save lives."

In addition to the ban, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, both Dems, are backing the so-called "Age 21 Act" that would raise the minimum age to purchase most semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.

President Biden weighed in on the two bills immediately, saying in a statement from the White House, "I urge both chambers of Congress to act quickly and deliver this Assault Weapons Ban to my desk. The majority of the American people agree with this common sense action." 

Biden has repeatedly called for a ban on such commonly-owned firearms and accessories over 160 times in the past two years, having been an important champion in the Senate of the 1994 federal AWB signed by President Clinton. That ban, which was seen by many as being ineffective in terms of reducing crime, expired in 2004. 

"Senator Feinstein’s legislation to ban an entire class of firearms no less unconstitutional now than any other time she has introduced this legislation in previous sessions of Congress," Mark Oliva, public affairs director of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told Guns.com. "This bill continues to fail to address crime and instead scapegoats law-abiding gun owners to achieve the gun control vision she, and President Joe Biden, so desperately want. This legislation stands no chance of passing the U.S. Senate, much less the U.S. House of Representatives. Americans have spoken with their wallets when it comes to the lawful possession of Modern Sporting Rifles."

For reference, the NSSF crunched the numbers on retail gun sales in 2022 and found that at least 16.4 million guns were sold last year. This stands as the third-highest year on record, exceeded only by 2020 and 2021. 

"Efforts by Senator Feinstein, and President Biden, would be better spent enforcing the law to protect Americans from criminals rather than making criminals of the tens of millions of Americans that already own this commonly-owned semiautomatic rifle," said Oliva.

Banner image: SIG Sauer semi-auto M400 series rifles of the type that would be banned under the planned AWB as authored by Sen. Feinstein. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

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