Live from the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, where the Committee on the Judiciary is holding its third hearing on gun regulation since the Sandy Hook Massacre:
Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) opened by laying out her case for a new, more stringent assault weapons ban. Her major premises were that mass shootings have increased in the past few years, and that semi-automatic, military-style assault rifles with high-capacity magazines have been the common thread in these more recent incidents.
“We are holding these hearings because the massacre at Newtown was, sadly, not an anomaly,” she said. As such, she proposes a ban on semi-automatic rifles which accept detachable magazines and feature one or more military-style features, such as a front grip or bayonet. The previous federal ban, in force between 1994 and its 2004 sunset, set the limit at two such feature. The proposed ban also outlaws a panoply of specific gun models such as the AR-15, and high-capacity magazines which exceed ten rounds. Senator Feinstein also singled out a recently developed peripheral called Slide Fire. This simple sliding stock enables the use of a “bump fire” technique to discharge a semi-automatic rifle at a rate approaching fully automatic machine guns with minimal effect on accuracy.
“Since the Newtown massacre several states … have shown leadership in (enacting) or strengthening assault weapon bans,” Senator Feinstein asserted before challenging the federal government to do the same. After laying out the major provisions of her own legislation, she attempted to head off major objections to it. The California Democrat asserted that hunters and sport shooters would not be affected, and noted that guns and magazines legally owned as of the ban’s enactment would be grandfathered in, not confiscated, and even quoted Antonin Scalia’s Heller opinion: “We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”