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NRA Special Alert
- Reduces, from two to one, the number of permitted external features on various firearms. The 1994 ban permitted various firearms to be manufactured only if they were assembled with no more than one feature listed in the law. Feinstein’s new bill would prohibit the manufacture of the same firearms with even one of the features.
- Adopts new lists of prohibited external features. For example, whereas the 1994 ban applied to a rifle or shotgun the “pistol grip” of which “protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon,” the new bill would drastically expand the definition to include any “grip . . . or any other characteristic that can function as a grip.” Also, the new bill adds “forward grip” to the list of prohibiting features for rifles, defining it as “a grip located forward of the trigger that functions as a pistol grip.” Read literally and in conjunction with the reduction from two features to one, the new language would apply to every detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifle. At a minimum, it would, for example, ban all models of the AR-15, even those developed for compliance with California’s highly restrictive ban.
- Carries hyperbole further than the 1994 ban. Feinstein’s 1994 ban listed “grenade launcher” as one of the prohibiting features for rifles. Her 2013 bill carries goes even further into the ridiculous, by also listing “rocket launcher.” Such devices are restricted under the National Firearms Act and, obviously, are not standard components of the firearms Feinstein wants to ban. Perhaps a subsequent Feinstein bill will add “nuclear bomb,” “particle beam weapon,” or something else equally far-fetched to the features list.
- Expands the definition of “assault weapon” by including:
- Three very popular rifles: The M1 Carbine (introduced in 1944 and for many years sold by the federal government to individuals involved in marksmanship competition), a model of the Ruger Mini-14, and most or all models of the SKS.
- Any “semiautomatic, centerfire, or rimfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds,” except for tubular-magazine .22s.
- Any “semiautomatic, centerfire, or rimfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches,” any “semiautomatic handgun with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds,” and any semi-automatic handgun that has a threaded barrel.
- Requires owners of existing “assault weapons” to register them with the federal government under the National Firearms Act (NFA). The NFA imposes a $200 tax per firearm, and requires an owner to submit photographs and fingerprints to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), to inform the BATFE of the address where the firearm will be kept, and to obtain the BATFE’s permission to transport the firearm across state lines.
- Prohibits the transfer of “assault weapons.” Owners of other firearms, including those covered by the NFA, are permitted to sell them or pass them to heirs. However, under Feinstein’s new bill, “assault weapons” would remain with their current owners until their deaths, at which point they would be forfeited to the government.
- Prohibits the domestic manufacture and the importation of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The 1994 ban allowed the importation of such magazines that were manufactured before the ban took effect. Whereas the 1994 ban protected gun owners from errant prosecution by making the government prove when a magazine was made, the new ban includes no such protection. The new ban also requires firearm dealers to certify the date of manufacture of any >10-round magazine sold, a virtually impossible task, given that virtually no magazines are stamped with their date of manufacture.
- Targets handguns in defiance of the Supreme Court. The Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects the right to have handguns for self-defense, in large part on the basis of the fact handguns are the type of firearm “overwhelmingly chosen by American society for that lawful purpose.” Semi-automatic pistols, which are the most popular handguns today, are designed to use detachable magazines, and the magazines “overwhelmingly chosen” by Americans for self-defense are those that hold more than 10 rounds. Additionally, Feinstein’s list of nearly 1,000 firearms exempted by name (see next paragraph) contains not a single handgun. Sen. Feinstein advocated banning handguns before being elected to the Senate, though she carried a handgun for her own personal protection.
- Contains a larger piece of window dressing than the 1994 ban. Whereas the 1994 ban included a list of approximately 600 rifles and shotguns exempted from the ban by name, the new bill’s list is increased to nearly 1,000 rifles and shotguns. Other than for the 11 detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles and one other semi-automatic rifle included in the list, however, the list appears to be pointless, because a separate provision of the bill exempts “any firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action.”