Anyone following gun rights/”gun control” issues for any length of time will remember United States Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) lamenting the fact that her 1994 ban of so-called “assault weapons” included, by political necessity, a “grandfather clause,” exempting any banned guns and “high capacity” magazines if they were already on the domestic market before the ban’s effective date in 1994. As she explained on CBS’s 60 Minutes in February 1995 (see accompanying video):
If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here.
It’s now 20 years since the ban was implemented, and 10 since its demise, and even the invariably pro-“gun control” New York Times has found itself admitting that the ban did little or nothing to reduce “gun violence.” Feinstein told us in April 2009 (again on 60 Minutes) that she had no intention of giving up on going after semi-automatic, detachable magazine-fed rifles, but that she would wait until the political winds started blowing in an advantageous direction:
I wouldn’t bring it up now…I’ll pick the time and the place [to push for a new ban], no question about that.
The perfect time came, of course, in December 2012, with the massacre of 20 young children and six school staff members, in the Sandy Hook Elementary atrocity, carried out (to “gun control” advocates’ delight) with an AR-15 type rifle. True to her word, Feinstein wasted little time pushing for a new “improved” ban–far broader than the old one, without a built-in “sunset provision” (expiration date)–and with, at first, a provision that would essentially have made it a confiscatory ban for tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands? millions?), because she would put all the “assault weapons” already privately owned under the auspices of the National Firearms Act of 1934, to be treated like machine guns:
The guns would be registered (presumably, like machine guns, subject to periodic inspections by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives); owners would be subject to invasive background checks, presumably fingerprinting, etc. She did not mention the $200 tax stamp for every transfer (and would that also apply to magazines–each magazine?), but if they are to be regulated “like machine guns,” that would be part of it. And ownership of the gun would apparently be contingent on a local judge or chief law enforcement officer approving that ownership–with the official in question not required to provide that approval, or even a reason for disapproval.
Failure to meet any of these requirements would be grounds for confiscation.
By the time the bill was written, she had apparently established at least some contact with reality, and dropped the idea of an NFA registry requirement for all the millions of such guns owned by the public, because even then, with public support for such a ban higher than in many years, that wasn’t going to happen. As it turns out, even her “softened” AWB mustered only 40 votes–meaning that the number of senators, in a Democrat-controlled Senate, at the zenith of anti-“assault weapon” sentiment, who did not vote for the ban would have been enough to form the three fifths supermajority required to pass a Senate bill, had a bill to repeal such a ban been necessary.
But, as she revealed in a statement to ProPublica this month, she still wants a ban, still wants it to be permanent (no “sunset provision”) and still wants it to be confiscatory:
The study suggested the law would have been even more effective [as the ProPublica article points out, that’s “even more effective” than utterly ineffective] if it had banned weapons already in circulation and if it had continued past its 10-year duration. Unfortunately those limits were part of the compromise that had to be struck to pass the ban into law.
And don’t think for a minute she would be content to stop at “assault weapons,” if she ever manages to confiscate those.
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