California Senate Democrat Dianne Feinstein has come out fighting in the wake of Friday’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
“I’m going to introduce in the Senate and the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons,” Feinsten told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
“It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession. Not retroactively, but prospectively. And it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets. So there will be a bill. We’ve been working on it now for a year.”
In the aftermath of Newtown — and the spate of unrelated shootings or near-shootings that took place this weekend in Alabama, Indiana, Southern California, and Oklahoma — Feinstein is effectively issuing a rallying cry before Congress resumes in January.
The day after the Newtown slayings, Fox News reported Feinstein saying:
“I hope and trust that in the next session of Congress there will be sustained and thoughtful debate about America’s gun culture and our responsibility to prevent more loss of life. I will do another assault weapons ban.”
It’s not the first time the Senator has gone after guns and the culture that underpins it.
The Huffington Post notes that Feinstein co-sponsored a 1993 bill banning assault weapons that was signed into law under President Clinton’s administration in 1994 after the 101 California Street shooting in San Francisco.
Since then, anti and pro gun lobbies have thrown statistics and studies at each other, with one side claiming Federal Assault Weapons Bans don’t reduce or prevent gun crime, while the other argues it does.
Fast forward to 2012, Feinstein called for the ban to be renewed after the mass shootings in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. At the time, Feinstein wrote on her public campaign wesbsite:
“Who needs these military-style assault weapons? Who needs an ammunition feeding device capable of holding 100 rounds? These weapons are not for hunting deer — they’re for hunting people.”
According to a CNN report today, Connecticut State Police spokesman, Lt. J. Paul Vance said:
“[Adam] Lanza used a Bushmaster AR-15 assault-type rifle to gun down children in two classrooms” before turning a handgun on himself.
CNN also spoke to Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy who added: “He [Lanza] penetrated the building by literally shooting an entrance into the building. That’s what an assault weapon can do for you.”
Vance also told reporters a shotgun was found in the vehicle Lanza parked outside the school. The 20-year-old also had a Glock 10mm, a Sig Sauer 9mm, “multiple magazines” and extra ammunition.
With one section of America viewing Feinstein and New York Democrats, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy and Senator Chuck Schumer as Second Amendment attackers, others see them as voices of sanity.
In a public statement Schumer said:
“There have been a rash of these unbelievably horrible incidents, culminating in yesterday’s shocking act in Newtown. I am hopeful that yesterday’s unspeakable events will cause the nation to re-examine its position on guns, and allow us to come to a solution that still preserves the right to bear arms for law-abiding citizens, but makes it much harder for those who would do us harm to obtain firearms.”
But while President Obama’s “meaningful action” promise has just received its first significant pom pom in the shape of Feinstein’s announcement, signs are the battle will be uphill. Political talk ahead of Feinstein’s assault weapon ban bill is that it would still lack the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster.
Yahoo News quotes Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for politics:
“Everyone’s frustrated and I understand why people use this terrible tragedy for a good purpose, trying to get a discussion going on gun control. But the House probably wouldn’t even bring any of it up for a vote.”
Despite this, Feinstein is clear that Obama will have the backing to begin the tough climb to effective assault weapon gun control.
“He is going to have a bill to lead on,” she told NBC’s Meet the Press.