The legislation bans more than 150 firearms by name. According to the bill, these include all AR-15 types, which are civilian derivatives of the military M-16; all AK-47 types, which are derivatives of the famous Soviet assault rifle of the same name; and MAC weapons, Thompson weapons, and Uzis, among others.
Beyond that, the legislation would restrict weapons according to their characteristics. Falling into this category would be semiautomatic rifles that can accept a detachable magazine, and have at least one military-style feature from this list: pistol grip; forward grip, folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; grenade launcher or rocket launcher; barrel shroud; or threaded barrel.
Pistols and shotguns with similar features would also be covered by the legislation’s restrictions.
These restrictions are somewhat tougher than those contained in the assault weapons ban that was the law of the land from 1994 to 2004. Under that law, a weapon had to have two of the military style features, instead of one, to be categorized as an “assault” weapon. The new bill would also ban some of the stylistic workarounds that manufacturers used to get around the previous legislation, such as thumbhole stocks, which mimic a pistol grip.
“One criticism of the ’94 law was that it was ... too easy work around. Manufacturers would simply remove one of the characteristics, and the firearm was legal. The bill we are introducing today will make it much more difficult to work around,” said Feinstein at a Thursday press conference.
However, in some ways, the bill is most different than the old not for the way it categorizes new assault weapons, but for the manner in which it treats existing assault weapons and magazines in private hands.