By Edwin Folven, 12/27/2012
Senator plans to introduce a motion in January to re-instate federal ban
Local and federal political leaders are calling for changes to address the problem of gun violence following the tragedy that occurred on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is calling for a re-instatement of the federal assault weapons ban, and vowed to reintroduce a bill in Congress in January to outlaw sales of firearms like the one used in the Connecticut shooting.
“On the first day of the new Congress, I intend to introduce a bill stopping the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of assault weapons, as well as large ammunition magazines, strips and drums that hold more than ten rounds,” Feinstein said. “I have been working with my staff for over a year on this legislation. It will be carefully focused on the most dangerous guns that have killed so many people over the years while protecting the rights of gun owners by exempting hundreds of weapons that fall outside the bill’s scope. We must take these dangerous weapons of war off our streets.”
Feinstein’s measure would stop the sale, transfer, importation and manufacture of more than 100 assault weapons, as well as some semiautomatic rifles, handguns and shotguns that utilize detachable magazines. It would also ban semiautomatic rifles and handguns with fixed magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds, and large-capacity ammunition magazines, strips and drums capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
The senator’s proposal would allow gun owners to keep firearms legally possessed on or before the date the law is enacted, and would exempt many firearms specifically designed for hunting or recreation, antiques and permanently disabled weapons.
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, said he will introduce a motion before the city council when its session resumes in January to support Feinstein’s call for an assault weapons ban.
“These frighteningly deadly mass shooting sprees seem to be increasingly frequent, and are made far easier to accomplish by the presence of assault weapons,” Koretz said. “Sanity, safety and care for our fellow human beings dictate that we support and adopt legislation to ban such weaponry. We need to lessen this scourge of violence, by expanding our mental health services and figuring out how better to identify at-risk individuals, but also by removing tools of violence from the reach of the dangerous and unstable, and eliminating the presence of mass killing machinery.”
Other public officials also support the reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban. Some also denounced a proposal by the National Rifle Association to have trained, armed volunteers in schools, which was presented by NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre on Dec. 21. Los Angeles City Attorney candidate and former state Assemblyman Mike Feuer said more needs to be done to ensure public safety.
“All Americans should be outraged that after years of blocking common-sense rules that could have prevented needless carnage. All the NRA can propose is to place more guns in schools,” Feuer said. “It’s one thing to increase the presence of trained police officers on campus, a step we can all support. But just placing armed guards, without the training and experience of law enforcement personnel, in schools could make campuses more dangerous, not less.”
Feuer also outlined a plan for making schools safer that echoed some of Feinstein’s proposals. Feuer called for magazines that hold more than 10 rounds to be prohibited, and also proposed that the federal government require all handguns manufactured to be equipped with microstamping technology, where the firing pin imprints a tiny serial number on the casings of all ammunition a gun fires. Additionally, he said the federal government should limit gun purchases to one per month, per person, to limit the number of purchases made by “straw buyers”, or individuals who buy firearms in bulk and then resell them. Feuer also said the federal government needs to focus more on caring for individuals with mental health issues, and mandate that insurers cover the diagnosis and medically necessary treatment of mental illness.
“There is so much more we must do. Given the growing national consensus behind re-enactment of the federal assault weapons ban and other important steps, it’s time for Congress to take the bold action necessary to make Americans safer,” Feuer said. “I am confident we can muster the will as a nation to stand up to the NRA and its allies and enact the major reforms we so desperately need.”
Feuer is challenging incumbent Carmen Trutanich and private attorney Greg Smith in the race for Los Angeles City Attorney. Trutanich said he supports a re-instatement of the federal assault weapons ban and a ban on large capacity gun magazines. On Dec. 20, Trutanich also announced that his office is joining with the Los Angeles Police Department and state Department of Justice to send letters to all gun buyers notifying them about their responsibility to report the transfer, sale, loss or theft of a firearm to the state or be prosecuted.
“We have a gun violence epidemic in America, and I want to do all that I can as city attorney in Los Angeles to help change that fact,” Trutanich said. “If you choose to own a gun, we want to make sure that you store it safely, keep it locked up and away from children, and if you sell it or it’s stolen, that the sale or theft be reported.”
Smith also said he supports a full federal ban on assault weapons, and vowed to crack down on gun violence.
“I have always supported assault weapon ban legislation. I have not and will not accept campaign money from any pro-gun lobby members,” Smith said. “I can see no reason why anyone should be able to sell an assault weapon to the general public. We must keep these kinds of weapons off our streets. That is why I support Senator Feinstein’s legislation to reinstitute the federal ban on assault weapons.”