The Wall Street Journal By Siobhan Hughes
Sen. Dianne Feinstein along with several fellow Democrats and a group of police officers and gun victims unveiled legislation Thursday that would restrict access to firearms, presenting an organized front in the face of opposition from the gun lobby.
One by one, the California lawmaker and her co-sponsors said that a ban on certain semiautomatic weapons would help stop gun massacres. Many of bill’s sponsors are longtime gun-control advocates, and have become more determined to reinstate a ban on semiautomatic weapons deemed assault weapons after the December shootings in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 schoolchildren and six school staff members dead, as well as the alleged shooter and his mother.
“Our weak gun laws allow these mass killings to be carried out again and again and again,” Ms. Feinstein said.
“Newtown is a call to action,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) said, acknowledging that passing the bill “will be a hard fight.”
The initiative faces an uphill climb in Congress given opposition from Republicans and gun-state Democrats. The influential National Rifle Association said in a statement Thursday that “it’s disappointing but not surprising that she is once again focused on curtailing the Constitution instead of prosecuting criminals or fixing our broken mental health system. The American people know gun bans do not work and we are confident Congress will reject Senator Feinstein’s wrong-headed approach.”
The ban would target an estimated 158 specific weapons. The prohibition would also apply to other semiautomatic weapons with certain features, such as compatibility with detachable, large-capacity magazines. Under the measure, it also would be illegal to make, import or sell magazines that can accept more than 10 rounds.
“If they’re not in the stores, they can’t be bought,” said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D., N.Y.), who has a reputation as the loudest advocate for gun-control laws in the House. Her husband was killed and her son severely injured in a 1993 shooting.
Mindful of opposition, the Democrats said they don’t intend to take away guns from hunters and sportsmen.
Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey joined the press conference to throw his weight behind the legislation.
“Twenty children slaughtered at one time in a school house,” Mr. Ramsey said. “If the slaughter of 20 babies does not capture and hold your attention, then I give up because I don’t know what else will.”