Senate panel advances assault weapons ban
Washington • The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced legislation to again ban the sale of assault weapons despite the objections of Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee.
The Utah Republicans said the measure by Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., would limit Second Amendment rights and was too similar to its predecessor, the 1994 assault weapons ban, that the senators said didn't work. The committee passed the bill by a party-line vote of 10-8.
Lee raised concerns that the legislation didn't take into account the interests of gun owners. "To my knowledge, the overwhelming majority of those weapons are possessed by law-abiding people, and they are used for law-abiding purposes hunting, target practice, self-defense and the like," he said.
Hatch was even more skeptical of the ban, which he called an "expansion of legislation which we know will not work."
"The version of this legislation enacted two decades ago wisely required an evaluation of its effectiveness. That evaluation gave it a failing grade," Hatch said. "The assault weapons ban brought no discernible decrease in gun violence."
The ban would outlaw 157 types of "military-style" weapons and magazines that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Feinstein also sponsored the 1994 ban that expired in 2004. The new legislation has no expiration clause.
The assault weapon ban is one of several gun bills moving through Congress. The Senate Judiciary Committee previously pushed through a measure to expand background checks to all gun sales, a move that has garnered the most support of any the bills.