“If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, ‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in,’ I would have done it.” —U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein
It’s been nearly25 years since Dianne Feinstein uttered those words while discussing the 1994 ban on semi-automatic rifles, handguns and shotguns. With that proclamation, she made clear her ultimate goal is nothing short of confiscation when it comes to firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens.
Anti-gun extremists may face more difficulties in promoting their latest federal ban, but that doesn’t mean those who cherish freedom should be complacent.
Of course, the ’94 ban was an absolute failure. Sold to the country—by Feinstein and others—as a means to combat violent crime, a congressionally mandated study of its effectiveness showed it had no impact on crime. After 10 years, the ban ended when Congress wisely chose to not renew it.
Fast-forward a quarter-century since that misguided, ineffective federal semi-automatic ban was enacted, and Feinstein is still in the Senate—and still promoting banning firearms.
Some things never change.
The latest attack on the Second Amendment by California’s senior senator comes in the form of S. 66, which she introduced on Jan. 9. And while she has made changes to what was enacted in 1994, those changes have made a bad old law into a worse proposed new law.
First, she has greatly expanded the number of firearms that would be impacted. The 1994 ban specifically named about two dozen firearms to be designated as “semi-automatic assault weapons.” Feinstein’s S. 66 singles out more than 200 firearms.
It gets worse.
The ’94 generic definition of a “semi-automatic assault weapon” has been expanded to include almost all popular semi-automatic rifles.
And while S. 66 does grandfather in a “semi-automatic assault weapon” if owned prior to the date that the ban’s restrictions take effect, any future transfer of an affected rifle would be subject to a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check. That includes transferring the rifle as a “sale, gift or loan.”
Do you want to give your spouse one of the affected firearms as a gift? NICS check.
Do you want to take your kids out on your own property—where it is completely legal and safe to discharge a firearm—to give them basic safety and marksmanship lessons with an affected firearm? NICS check.
Do you want to loan your neighbor—who you know is a law-abiding citizen familiar with the safe, responsible handling of firearms—one of your affected guns? NICS check.
The NICS check will have to be done through a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder, so every one of these “transactions” will require a trip to a gun store. Those in rural areas may find this quite prohibitive—as is likely the intent—as the closest FFL holder could be hours away.
Another failed policy included in S. 66, which was also found in the ’94 ban, is the prohibition on “large capacity feeding device(s).” The same arbitrarily chosen magazine capacity applies: 10 rounds. This, of course, is a lower capacity than the magazines that come standard with the most popular firearms sold today.
Like the firearms affected by S. 66, impacted magazines are also grandfathered, with one key difference. Future transfers of the affected magazines are prohibited. As the bill is currently drafted, you can transfer an affected firearm through an FFL, but not the magazine that came with it if it exceeds “legal” capacity.
Although Feinstein’s latest attack on our right to keep and bear arms is much worse than previous iterations, some things have improved.
In 1994, the Senate was controlled by anti-gun senators, with an anti-gun president pushing for a ban. Today, the Senate is under pro-gun control, and President Donald Trump has stated opposition to such a ban.
In addition, we have had two Supreme Court cases affirm that the Second Amendment protects a right to possess firearms “in common use at the time for lawful purposes.” S. 66 seeks to ban the most popular class of rifles in America, with an estimated 16 million having been produced since the ’94 ban expired.
Anti-gun extremists may face more difficulties in promoting their latest federal ban, but that doesn’t mean those who cherish freedom should be complacent. I urge you to contact your senators and urge them to reject S. 66. This is just the latest attempt to ban the most popular firearms in America—and, as Sen. Feinstein has admitted—merely a stepping stone toward her true goal: eventual confiscation.