Three Proposed ‘Assault Weapons’ Bans Likely to Pass, 11 Likely to Fail
After learning that her proposed semi-automatic firearms ban would fall at least 20 votes shy of the 60-vote majority needed...
After learning that her proposed semi-automatic firearms ban would fall at least 20 votes shy of the 60-vote majority needed for approval, Sen. Dianne Feinstein on March 19 withdrew her proposed reincarnation of the 1994 AWB from a package of gun legislation heading to the Senate floor.
Feinstein’s proposal will still get voted on as an amendment, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it will be lucky to attract 40 votes in the 100-member Senate. Feinstein said she might break off the portion of her bill that limits the capacity of gun magazines to no more than 10 bullets into a separate proposal.
While the proposed federal semi-automatic firearms ban has been banished to the backest of back burners, bills proposing similar so-called “assault weapons bans” have been introduced in at least 14 state legislatures since January.
Few are likely to be adopted, although proposed legislation that could allow state and local governments to ban so-called “assault weapons” in Illinois, Delaware, and Rhode Island have a good chance to be approved.
If so, Illinois, Delaware, and Rhode Island would join California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts as the 10 states with semi-automatic firearms bans.
Below are brief outlines of bills proposing “assault weapons” bans in the 14 states where they have been introduced since January, broken down into “Likely To Pass” and “Unlikely To Pass” sections.
LIKELY TO PASS: Illinois, Delaware, Rhode Island
* Illinois: House Bill 1156 would ban “assault weapons” and prohibit any “large capacity ammunition feeding device” of more than 10 rounds. HB 1156 and its four amendments passed a procedural second reading on March 13 during which 49 mostly Republicans abstained in a 52-14 vote endorsing the proposal for final presentation.
*Delaware: In January, Democratic Governor Jack Markell unveiled broad gun control plans that include a ban on commonly owned semi-automatic firearms and a 10-bullet limit on magazine capacities. Not to be outdone, Democratic Sen. Robert Marshall proposed a gun control package that would ban “military-style assault weapons” and that can hold more than 10 rounds. There is no indication when, or if, Marshall’s bills will be presented to the General Assembly.
* Rhode Island: Senate Bill 2573 overturns state pre-emption of firearms and would allow localities to impose whatever gun control measures they desire, like the resolution adopted in January by the city of Providence banning all semi-automatic firearms. SB 2573 has a good chance of passing this spring.
UNLIKELY TO PASS: Pennsylvania, Vermont, Oregon, Virginia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Washington, Georgia
* Pennsylvania: Senate Bill 435 would ban “possession, use, control, sale, transfer, or manufacture of an assault weapon” as well as magazines of more than 10 bullets. It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 5 where it is likely to remain.
* Vermont: Sen. Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden County) introduced a bill that would ban semi-automatic guns, limit the amount of bullets in a cartridge to 10 and require parents to put locks on guns in January … and then promptly withdrew it, acknowledging no support.
State lawmakers have resisted adopting gun control laws even after voters in Burlington, as well as six Upper Valley towns — Strafford, Bradford, Woodstock, Norwich, Hartland, and Thetford — approved resolutions urging them to require mandatory background checks for all gun buyers and ban assault weapons.
* Oregon: House Bill 3200, promoted by Ceasefire Oregon, seeks to ban the sale and possession of many semi-automatic firearms, as well as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
Any chance the bill had of passing was diminished when opponents correctly noted a clause in the proposed bill would allow state police to “investigate” gun owners’ property to make sure weapons “are safely stored.”
* Virginia: In January, Democratic Delegate Joe Morrissey shocked the Virginia House of Delegates when he held up an AK-47 to try and get support for his proposed “assault weapons” ban.
Morrissey’s House Bill 2207 hasn’t surfaced from committee in the House yet, but the Virginia Senate’s Republican-led judicial committee has rejected bills proposing to ban “assault weapons” and ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds. The committee has endorsed a measure to substantially strengthen background checks for gun buyers in the state.
* Kentucky: Three liberal Democrats have proposed House Bill 265, which would require anyone seeking to purchase or possess virtually any type of semi-automatic firearm to get permission from local law enforcement first. It has little chance of being approved.
* Minnesota: House File 241, co-sponsored by nine Democrats, would make it a crime to “manufacture, import, transfer or possess an ‘assault weapon.'” It was referred to the House Public Safety Finance and Policy on Jan. 31 and hasn’t been heard from since.
* Missouri: House Bill 545 would prohibit the manufacturing and possession of “assault weapons” and magazine clips of more than 10 rounds — and require those owning assault weapons to turn in the guns within 90 days of the bill taking effect.
HB 545, introduced by Rep. Rory Ellinger (D-University City) Ellinger in mid-February, would require gun owners to hand over their legally purchased so-called “assault weapons” to “the appropriate law enforcement agency for destruction” within 90 days.
In a state Legislature dominated by a two-thirds Republican majority, HB 545 is unlikely to even get a hearing.
* New Mexico: House Bill 402, introduced by Rep. Stephen Easley, would make it illegal for New Mexicans to own an “assault weapon” and any “large-capacity ammunition-feeding device” of more than 10 rounds beginning July 1, 2013.
HB 402 was tabled in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee in a 3-2 vote in February and isn’t likely to advance further.
* Ohio: Senate Bill 18 would ban the sale and possession of “assault weapons,” limits the size of a magazine to nine bullets or fewer, and creates a database to track all gun and ammunition sales.
Sen. Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland) introduced SB 18 in February, prompting Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman. Chad D. Baus to write, “Smith’s gun control bill should be dead on arrival in the Ohio Senate.”
* Washington: Senate Bill 5737, sponsored by Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray, proposes “banning the sale of assault weapons,” any semiautomatic pistol, pump-action rifle or shotgun that can accept a detachable magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds. Any magazine that accepts over 10 rounds itself will also be banned.
It doubtful the bill will get far in the Republican-controlled Legislature, especially since a safe storage stipulation within the proposed bill says it’s within the government’s right to search your home once a year to determine if guns are properly stored.
* Georgia: State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) said in December that he would introduce bills in 2013 to ban “assault rifles” and limit magazines to 10 bullets. By mid-March, he had not done so. Regardless, it’s doubtful such proposals would gain much traction in traditionally gun-friendly Georgia.