Senate Panel OKs Assault-Weapon Ban

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 14 2013 11:15 AM

Assault-Weapon Ban Clears Committee Hurdle, About to Run Into Senate Wall

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stands next to a display of assault weapons during a news conference January 24, 2013 on Capitol Hill

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee this morning approved Dianne Feinstein's ban on assault weapons and high-capacity clips, clearing the way for the controversial gun-control proposal to be taken up by the full Senate—where it will almost certainly die.

Feinstein's proposal bans more than 150 different models of assault weapons, along with magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets at a time. All ten Democrats on the panel voted in favor of the bill, while all eight Republicans opposed. Given the make-up of the Senate, where Democrats control a slim majority, the bill's unlikely to go any further. Here's the Washington Post on the differences between Feinstein's bill and the federal ban that expired back in 2004:

[Feinstein's] proposal would ban the sale, transfer, manufacturing or importation of more than 150 specific firearms, including semiautomatic rifles or pistols that can be used with a detachable or fixed ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and have specific military-style features, including pistol grips, grenade launchers or rocket launchers.
It excludes more than 2,250 firearms used for hunting or other sport, and assault weapons lawfully owned before the law’s enactment. But it would require background checks for the sale or transfer of grandfathered weapons and would bar the sale or transfer of large-capacity feeding devices owned before the bill’s enactment. Current assault weapon owners also would need to safely store their firearms. Unlike the original federal ban passed in 1994, the new ban would be permanent.
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As Bloomberg noted earlier this year after the proposal was unveiled, a half dozen or so Democratic senators appear unlikely to back the bill, meaning that Democrats likely don't have the 51 votes they need to pass it, let alone the 60 needed to break the inevitable GOP filibuster.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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