Sen. Feinstein ready to introduce new ban on assault weapons

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will introduce a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips on Thursday.

Feinstein’s bill will expand the criteria for classifying military-style assault weapons from a 1994 law, which lapsed a decade later. Her new measure will ban the sale of about 150 types of firearms, including some rifles and handguns, as well as the sale of high-capacity magazines, according to USA Today.

{mosads}The bill will exempt firearms used for hunting and will grandfather in guns and magazines owned before the law’s potential enactment. However, the grandfathered weapons will be logged in a national registry.

The measure is expected to face a tough fight in the Senate, with many GOP lawmakers and the nation’s gun lobby vowing to oppose any new restrictions on gun ownership.

But Feinstein, a longtime proponent of gun reform, said she is ready to push her measure in the face of opposition from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

“I have worked on this for a long time,” said Feinstein in an interview with USA Today. “I’m not a newcomer or a novice to guns.

“The NRA sort of specialized in trying to denigrate me, but I don’t think there’s anyone around that’s spent 20 years on this subject, plus some,” she added.

Calls to renew the federal assault-weapons ban, which expired in 2004, have grown after last month’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

President Obama has been urging congressional leaders to pass legislation aimed at reducing gun violence, vowing “to use whatever weight this office holds” to make the new rules a reality.

Last week he unveiled a package of executive actions and called on lawmakers to pass measures instituting universal background checks to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and bans on sales of assault weapons and high-capacity clips.

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Vice President Biden and other White House officials will travel to Richmond, Va., on Friday to campaign for Obama’s plan to reduce gun violence. Biden headed the administration’s gun-violence task force, spending much of the last month meeting with stakeholders, ranging from the entertainment industry and sportsmen’s groups to gun-rights proponents, including the NRA.

Feinstein’s bill and Obama’s push will likely place Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a difficult position. While the White House and Feinstein would like a comprehensive gun-reform bill, Reid has said that he opposes banning assault weapons, which would be unlikely to pass the House. 

The majority leader has instead said he is open to moving on individual aspects of the president’s package that could find bipartisan support 

On Tuesday, Reid said he would hold an open-amendment vote on any Senate gun bill that moves through the Judiciary Committee, a move that would increase such a bill’s chances of passing but would likely limit the scope of any gun-reform measures.

Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is slated to hold the Senate’s first hearings on gun violence next week.

Leahy has said that he would like to focus his efforts on gun reform on strengthening the nation’s criminal background check system and on banning sales of high-capacity ammunition magazines. 

UPDATE: Feinstein introduces sweeping ban on semi-automatic military-style weapons

Tags Boehner Dianne Feinstein Harry Reid Patrick Leahy
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