Dems introduce bill to ban assault weapons

Dems introduce bill to ban assault weapons
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House Democrats on Wednesday formally renewed their push to renew a 1990s-era assault weapons ban, introducing legislation

A growing coalition of Democrats is looking to renew the assault weapons ban that was originally signed by President Bill ClintonBill ClintonWould Aretha Franklin perform at Trump inauguration? ‘Good question.’ Lieberman: Dems won't win with slide to left Dem blame game rages over Clinton loss MORE but expired more than a decade ago.

They blame assault weapons for rising casualties in a recent wave of mass shootings from San Bernardino, Calif., to a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“Now, let’s remember that assault weapons were first designed for the battlefield by Germans during the Second World War,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who is leading congressional efforts to ban these types of guns. "The sole purpose of their existence was to kill as many people as quickly as possible during military combat."

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2015 introduced Wednesday by Cicilline would target semi-automatic and other military-style guns. It would ensure that no such weapons are manufactured for consumer use, while placing new restrictions on the sale of already existing assault weapons.

The legislation is backed by about 90 Democratic co-sponsors, but has no hope of passing through Congress, given opposition from Republicans.

The gun lobby argues that the bill would affect many law-abiding hunters who use assault weapons.

"The assault weapons we’re talking about today are not just any guns,” Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) told reporters. "They’re not for hunting, they’re not for target practice. These are weapons of war, designed to inflict the maximum amount of death and injury.”

“I don’t know any hunters who use an assault weapon — and if they do, that’s not much of a sport,” added House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.). 

“I understand people want to protect themselves in their homes,” Hoyer said, “but what we have here is a reasonable restraint.”

Under the legislation, gun owners who already have assault weapons would be allowed to keep them, but they could face challenges reselling them.

The bill would intensify background checks for people looking to buy any of the estimated 8 million to 9 million assault weapons that are already in circulation. 

The law would also close what gun control groups refer to as the "Charleston loophole” that allows a gun dealer to sell a gun after three days if the FBI does not complete a background check in that time frame.

Dylann Roof, the man accused of killing nine people during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church earlier this year, purchased a gun under those circumstances.

Cicilline’s bill would close this loophole for resales of assault weapons that are already on the market, but not for other gun sales.