On Monday, February 26, U.S. House Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) announced that he had introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2018. Representative Ted Deutch (D-Florida) said on Twitter that more than 150 Democrats had already signed on to support the bill. “Today I joined @RepCicilline and 150+ of my colleagues to introduce the assault weapons ban. It’s time for Congress to listen to the will of a majority of Americans and pass sensible legislation to get these weapons of war off our streets,” his tweet read.
“Assault weapons were made for one purpose. They are designed to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time. They do not belong in our communities,” said Cicilline. “I am proud to introduce the Assault Weapons Ban with the support of leaders in law enforcement. It’s on all of us to end this carnage.”
The proposed bill states: “It shall be unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a semiautomatic assault weapon.”
The ban would not apply to semi-automatic weapons that were “lawfully possessed” when the measure went into effect — sort of a “If you like your gun, you can keep your gun,” statement, if you will. Owners of grandfathered “assault weapons” would be required to keep the gun secured from any person the owner “knows or has reasonable cause to believe” an individual prohibited from possessing a firearm. Grandfathered “assault weapons” could not be transferred from one individual to another without a background check from a dealer. An exception to that is specified for temporary use (the owner letting another shooter fire the gun at a range, while the owner is present), but nothing is mentioned of parent-child transfers as in the case of inheritance or other family matters.
The bill also requires the attorney general to create a public record of semi-automatic assault weapons that have been used in crimes.
Large-capacity magazines (over 10 rounds) would be banned under this bill, as well. To my reading, the bill does not specify if that applies to pistol magazines as well as rifle magazines.
What The Proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2018 Covers
In this bill, “assault weapon” is defined as:
- Any semi-automatic rifle that can accept a detachable magazine and has one of the following characteristics: a pistol grip; a forward grip; a folding, telescoping or detachable stock; a grenade launcher or rocket launcher; a barrel shroud; or a threaded barrel.
- Any semi-automatic rifle that has a fixed magazine that accepts more than 10 rounds – tube magazines for .22-caliber rimfire ammo are an allowed exception.
- Any part, component, device or accessory that accelerates the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle but does not convert it to “a machinegun.”
- A semi-automatic pistol that accepts detachable magazines and has any of the following characteristics: a threaded barrel; a second pistol grip; a barrel shroud; the capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside the pistol grip.
- A semi-automatic pistol with a fixed magazine that accepts more than 10 rounds.
- A semi-automatic shotgun that has any one of the following characteristics: a folding, telescoping or detachable stock; a pistol grip; a fixed magazine that holds more than five rounds; the ability to accept a detachable magazine; a forward grip; a grenade launcher or rocket launcher.
- Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.
- All belt-fed semi-automatic firearms.
- Any combination of parts from which an “assault weapon” can be assembled.
- Any gun specifically listed in the bill, of which there are more than 200 named, including all AK and AR types.
The bill also includes a long list of guns that are exempt from the ban, including such guns as the Browning BAR (certain models), Ruger Mini-14 without folding stock or pistol grip, Benelli Super Black Eagle (certain models), and many more models.
With a strong Republican majority in the House, it seems unlikely that this bill will gain much traction.
The White House says President Trump does not support a ban on “assault weapons.” “He campaigned for president and was opposed to the assault weapons ban, and his position hasn’t changed on that,” a spokesman said, as reported in The Hill.