Vice President Joe Biden administers the Senate Oath to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, as the 113th Congress officially began. Credit: AP
Congressional Democrats are reintroducing legislation to ban assault weapons but the measure faces long odds in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.
The measure being unveiled Thursday is authored by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who wrote the original assault weapons ban. That law expired in 2004 when Congress refused to renew it. There's much disagreement about the effectiveness of the original assault weapons ban.
"The purpose is to dry up the supply of these weapons over time," Feinstein said on Capitol Hill Thursday, flanked by several "assault" weapons. "Therefore there is no sunset on this bill."
Feinstein's sweeping legislation includes a ban on weapons with any "one military characteristic," and bans the "import, export, manufacture, sale and transfer of hundreds of semi-automatic rifles, handguns and some shotguns," Townhall's Katie Pavlich reports.
In other words, the ban doesn't just cover the "scary" AR-15 and AK-47 semi-automatic rifles. Here's the list of more than 150 guns that would be banned under Feinstein's plan. Freelance journalist Jonathan Krohn told TheBlaze that the list was handed out at Thursday's announcement on Capitol Hill, which he was covering. It looks even more sweeping on paper.
Watch Feinstein's Thursday announcement via the Washington Free Beacon:
The National Rifle Association promptly responded to Democrats' proposed gun ban on Thursday and called on Congress to "reject" Sen. Feinstein's bill. The NRA released the following statement:
Senator Feinstein has been trying to ban guns from law-abiding citizens for decades. It’s disappointing but not surprising that she is once again focused on curtailing the Constitution instead of prosecuting criminals or fixing our broken mental health system. The American people know gun bans do not work and we are confident Congress will reject Senator Feinstein’s wrong-headed approach.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) released his own statement in response to Feinstein's gun ban proposal on Thursday afternoon:
Washington politicians shouldn’t be taking advantage of recent tragedy to try to push an aggressive gun control agenda. Real assault weapons—machine guns—are already functionally illegal, and they have been since 1934. This proposal would have done nothing to prevent the terrible murders in Newtown, but it would limit the constitutional liberties of law-abiding citizens. And gun control doesn’t work – the empirical data overwhelmingly demonstrate that strict gun-control laws consistently produce more crime and more murders.
The Second Amendment exists to ensure that law-abiding Americans can protect their homes and families, and I look forward to helping lead the fight to defeat this bill and to protect our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
An assault weapons ban is among the measures supported by President Barack Obama, who unveiled a package of gun safety proposals last week. But because of concerns among moderate Democrats it's seen as a heavy lift in Congress, with measures such as beefed-up background checks more likely to pass.
At the heart of the debate, President Barack Obama and Democrats are claiming that banning so-called "assault weapons" will make Americans more safe.
The truth is much more complicated. The use of handguns in gun-related homicides is roughly 70 to 80 percent in most states, 24/7 Wall St. notes. Meanwhile, the use of rifles is under 5 percent, and use of shotguns about 5 percent. Knives are nearly always used in more murders than rifles or shotguns, according to FBI data.
24/7 Wall St.'s Douglas A. McIntyre suggests the federal government should make more of an effort to gather data on gun violence from local authorities in order to take meaningful action.
"The problem that the lack of data causes is about how to determine which guns might or might not be regulated more carefully," he writes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story has been updated