Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposed bill would not ban assault-weapon ownership, but it would ban the manufacture, sale, transfer, or importation of new assault weapons, as well as ban high-capacity magazines.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California on Thursday introduced long-promised legislation aimed at controlling assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. As critics note, “assault weapon” is a category of firearm that’s difficult to define. Millions of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are already in the hands of private citizens. So how would Senator Feinstein’s new restrictions work?
First, a general definition: assault weapons are small-caliber, high-powered rifles, pistols, or shotguns that are styled to appear as if they belong in a military or law enforcement arsenal. They are semiautomatic, meaning that each pull of the trigger fires one bullet and then chambers the next round.
True military rifles, such as the M16A2, are automatic, capable of firing multiple bullets with one pull of the trigger. But civilian ownership of automatic weapons has been tightly controlled in the US since the 1930s.
Feinstein’s bill is not a flat ban on assault-weapon ownership. Instead, it would ban the manufacture, sale, transfer, or importation of new assault weapons, as well as all ammunition feeding devices capable of holding more than 10 rounds. The legislation grandfathers in existing weapons and high-capacity magazines in private hands as legal.