The legislation, called the Assault Weapons Ban of 2018, was introduced less than two weeks after the deadly shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school that left 17 people dead. The gunman allegedly used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle during the shooting, one of the many firearms that would be banned under the bill.
The legislation would make it “unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a semiautomatic assault weapon.”
The new legislation is the latest attempt by Democrats to ressurect the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, which expired due to a sunset clause in 2004.
The very term, assault weapon, has been widely criticized as unnecessarily inflammatory, vague and misleading. Meant to be confused with the military designation of assault rifle. The U.S. Army defines assault rifles as “short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges.”
According to the Associated Press Stylebook, the media should differentiate between “assault rifles,” which are capable of fully automatic firing, and “assault weapons,” which are semiautomatic and “not synonymous with assault rifle.” A distinction routinely ignored by media and politicians alike.
It is also worth noting that such weapons fire an “intermediate cartridge” and are not the “high-powered” rifles often portrayed in the media. It is more powerful than a handgun, but less powerful than a rifle.
However, the ban wouldn’t apply to semi-automatic weapons that were “lawfully possessed” when the measure went into effect. So, no confiscation. Not yet anyway.
An article in the Guardian delved into the data and estimated just over two million AR-15s were produced between 2000 and 2010. That’s JUST the AR-15 and doesn’t include the other 205 specific firearms that are prohibited.
The bill also requires the attorney general to create a public record of semi-automatic assault weapons that have been used in crimes. FBI data shows, for example, between 2011 and 2015 of the 12-13,000 homicides a year, only about 300 a year are committed with rifles of any kind, much less the so-called assault weapons.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) promised to introduce such a ban during a CNN town hall event last week.
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. #NeverAgain #MSDStrong
— Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) February 26, 2018
The White House has already come out against such a ban, which is strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association.
“[President Trump] campaigned for president and was opposed to the assault weapons ban, and his position hasn’t changed on that,” a spokesman said.
Gun rights advocates have long argued that the assault weapons terminology and ban are based mostly on cosmetics; pistol grips, barrel shrouds, etc. They do not address the mechanical operation, firepower or significantly effect the operation of the firearm.
In states where assault weapons are banned, and even during the federal ban, these rifles are, and were, still produced, bought and sold. Merely changing the configuration to remove, bypass or work around the offending cosmetic features.
See the New York SAFE Act non-assault weapon, assault weapon in the video below from The Guardian.