US Democrats mount new effort to ban assault weapons

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 09 2017 08:27 AM

WASHINGTON - Nearly half of all US Senate Democrats introduced an updated assault weapons ban Wednesday aimed at curbing deadly mass shootings, but the legislation has not gained support from Republicans who control the chamber.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, who successfully led the charge in introducing and passing the original ban on such weapons in 1994, sponsored the current measure, which also bans the sale and use of devices which allow semi-automatic rifles to fire at machine gun rates.

"It's past time to remove weapons of war from our streets," Feinstein said in introducing the new bill with 22 other Democrats.

"It will be a long process to reduce the massive supply of these assault weapons in our country, but we’ve got to start somewhere."

No Republicans have sponsored the legislation.

The move comes days after a man shot and killed 26 people in a Texas church, and five weeks after a man murdered 58 people and wounded more than 500 others at a Las Vegas concert. 

After a shooting at a Connecticut elementary school killed 26 people in late 2012, the Senate considered an assault weapons ban, but it failed 40 votes to 60, thanks in part to intense lobbying by the National Rifle Association.

With the new measure, after every mass shooting "the American people will know that a tool to reduce these massacres is sitting in the Senate, ready for debate and a vote," Feinstein said.

Trump has dismissed arguments that guns were to blame in the latest massacres, saying he believed "mental health" was the issue in the church shooting.

The new bill bans the sale, manufacture and transfer of 205 military-style assault weapons by name, but allows owners to keep existing banned weapons. 

The original assault weapons ban passed in 1994, but it had a sunset provision which ended the ban after a decade.