Criminal Justice

ABA supports assault weapons bill introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein

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Photo of Laurel Bellows by Marc Hauser.

ABA President Laurel Bellows says the association is endorsing a bill that would regulate military assault-type weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced the legislation in the Senate today, USA Today and CNN report. At a news conference, Feinstein displayed weapons that could not be sold under the proposed ban, including a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle.

Bellows wrote to Feinstein and U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy to thank them for introducing the bill, according to an ABA press release. Feinstein was author of a previous assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

The Assault Weapons Regulatory Act of 2013 would ban the sale, transfer and importation of 120 specially named firearms, according to a summary at Feinstein’s website. The bill also bans large-capacity ammunition feeding devices capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.

“These particular weapons and clips were designed for killing large numbers of persons quickly; they have no other use in civilian hands,” Bellows writes in the letters (PDF). “The ABA believes that enactment of this legislation is an essential step, though only part of the answer, to keeping our nation’s schoolchildren and all our citizens safe from future mass shootings.”

A grandfather clause in the legislation would allow gun owners to keep assault weapons that are currently legal, but the law would better regulate sale and transfer of the guns, according to the ABA press release. Also exempted are more than 900 specifically named guns used for hunting or sporting purposes, along with antique and permanently disabled weapons. Gun owners with grandfathered assault weapon ammunition clips could not transfer them to others under the legislation, but they could sell them through voluntary ammunition buyback programs.

Bellows has also written a letter expressing association support for the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013. The law increases penalties for people who buy guns on behalf of those who do not meet firearms requirements.

Corrected on Jan. 25 to state that a Bushmaster is a semi-automatic weapon.

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