“I don’t know why anyone would object to drying up the supply of these weapons over time,” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in defending her assault weapons ban proposal, asserting that “while gun homicides are down in this country, mass shootings are not.” For her this created a rationale for banning high-capacity magazines and assault weapons such as the AR-15, a semi-automatic variant of the M-16, which she said have a natural appeal to mass shooters. She also argued that the ergonomic “military features” which distinguished assault weapons make them uniquely lethal.
“Members, this isn’t going to stop … and we have a chance to do something about it,” she concluded. Feinstein singled out the “Slide Fire” stock accessory, which dramatically increases the fire rate of a semi-automatic rifle. By implication, it is only a matter of time before the system is used to spray a crowd of innocent people with bullets, though Feinstein did not address the point that mass shootings and assault weapons are both rare.
Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) followed up by reading a letter from the relative of a shooting victim who stated that, while no one should have to go through what he did, he cautioned against knee-jerk reactions that diminish the liberty of law-abiding citizens.
Connecticut Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that an assault weapons ban, high-capacity magazine ban, and universal background check policy would have prevented or at least ameliorated the student deaths in Newtown, seeming to counter Grassley’s earlier statement to the contrary.