Assault Weapons Ban 2013: Introduced, Prospects Uncertain

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The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 was introduced by Democrats in U.S. Congress today, but its prospects for passage look marginal at best.

The law would reinstate the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, with some adjustments designed to make it even more restrictive.

Assault Weapons

The 2013 ban would outlaw assault weapons as well as high-capacity ammunition magazines; it also wouldn't have a 10-year expiration date.

Ted Nugent and millions of others are no doubt fuming at the prospect.

"Today we are introducing legislation that will help end the mass shootings that have devastated countless families and terrorized communities," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Feinstein added that she is "incensed at our weak gun laws that allow these mass killings to be carried out again, and again, and again in this country."

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) said she has "watched the slaughter of so many people and I've met with so many victims over the years, and in Congress nobody wanted to touch the issue."

"In the last several years, the massacres were going on more and more," continued McCarthy, whose husband was killed and son was injured in 1993 when a man opened fire on a commuter train.

"How many people have to be killed before we do something?"

Among the lawmakers present were the two senators from Connecticut as well as members of the House representing Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo.

Whereas the 1994 ban, for example, defined an assault weapon as a gun that had two or more features or cosmetic accessories such as a pistol grip.

The 2013 ban will limit those features to one, which Feinstein said would make it harder for assault weapons manufacturers to get around the law.

Broadly, the legislation prohibits 158 specifically named military-style firearms along with certain semiautomatic weapons; and limit magazines to 10 rounds.

Americans would be able to keep affected weapons already in their possession; the new bill would require a background check for those weapons if sold or transferred.

Ultimately, however, these details are not likely not to matter all that much, because there is little chance that the legislation will get through Congress.

In the U.S. Senate, Democrats control 55 out of 100 votes, five short of the amount needed to overcome a GOP filibuster, even if all 55 signed on.

The odds are even worse in the GOP-led House.

Earlier this month, President Obama called on Congress to pass the assault weapons and high-capacity magazine ban, as well as many other measures.

Obama said that "if there's even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try."

While it stands little chance of passage, gun control advocates hope the law will open the door to other measures more likely to be signed into law.

What do you think: Should there be more gun control laws?

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