Assault weapons ban introduced

By Peter Melahn, Guest Writer

A proposed ban on assault-style weapons was reintroduced in the Senate this past week by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and other Democrats in the wake of two mass shootings in California that left a total of 18 people dead within two days.

The legislation was first introduced on Jan. 23, days after a gunman killed 11 people in Monterey Park, California, during a Lunar New Year celebration. Monterey Park, a city in Los Angeles County, is home to large Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities.

“Jill and I are thinking of those killed and injured in last night’s deadly mass shooting,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “I directed my Homeland Security Advisor to mobilize full federal support to local and state authorities as they continue to respond and investigate this shooting.”

Later that day a different gunman killed seven people in Half Moon Bay, California, in a pair of shootings.

Though the weapon used in the Half Moon Bay shooting was identified as a handgun, the gun used in Monterey Park was identified by authorities as an assault-style weapon. This comes just months after a shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in which a gunman shot and killed five people with an assault rifle.

The day after the Half Moon Bay shooting, Biden released another statement announcing that “Senator Feinstein — along with Senators Murphy, Blumenthal and others — reintroduced a federal assault weapons ban that would raise the minimum purchase age for assault weapons to 21.” Currently, the minimum age required to purchase an assault weapon is 18.

Sen. Feinstein, along with Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), have introduced two bills in the Senate. The first of which is  a complete federal ban on certain assault weapons, while the second proposed bill takes less of a hardline stance and would merely raise the minimum age to purchase such weapons to 21.

The last time legislation regarding control of assault weapons was successfully passed through the Senate was in 1994. The 1994 assault weapons ban, pushed through the upper chamber by then-senator Biden, prevented the sale of more than a dozen specific assault weapons and banned the further sale of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The legislation was set to only be in effect for a decade, expiring in 2004.

The 1994 ban proved to be a bipartisan piece of legislation. The current ban, however, will likely have a harder time making it through Congress. Though the Democrats, who proposed the ban, control the Senate, the House is controlled by the Republicans, who fear such a ban would infringe on the second amendment rights laid out in the Constitution. Still, Biden continues to advocate for it. 

“I urge both chambers of Congress to act quickly and deliver this Assault Weapons Ban to my desk,” Biden stated.

March For Our Lives supports an assault weapons ban.

“This isn’t a talking point, it’s a crisis. The time has passed for our leaders to take action,” the group said in a statement.