Roughly 48 hours after the tragic shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, a powerful Democrat claimed that on the first day of the new Congress in January, she will be introducing a bill to both chambers of Congress that bans assault weapons.
So said Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday.
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: Has the President failed to lead on this, Senator?
SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-California): Well, I'm not going to comment on that. I can tell you that he is going to have a bill to lead on because it’s a first day bill I’m going to introduce in the Senate, and the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons.
It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation, and the possession, not retroactively, but prospectively. And it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets. So there will be a bill. We've been working on it now for a year. We've tried to take my bill from '94 to 2004 and perfect it. We believe we have. We exempt over 900 specific weapons that will not be fall under the bill. But the purpose of this bill is to get just what Mayor Bloomberg said: weapons of war off the streets of our cities.
GREGORY: What makes you think it can pass? We've had tragedies before, and nothing happens.
FEINSTEIN: Well, I'll tell you what happened back in '93 when I told Joe Biden who was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee that I was going to move this as an amendment on the crime bill. He laughed at me. He said, “You're new here. Wait till you learn.” And we got it through the Senate. We got it through the House. The White House came alive in the House of Representatives. And the Clinton administration helped. The bill was passed, and the president signed it. It can be done.
For those that have forgotten, the assault weapons ban Feinstein spoke of was part of The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Once enacted, it was a ten year ban with a sunset provision thereby expiring on September 13, 2004. All attempts at reimplementing it have failed.
It remains to be seen whether the shootings in Connecticut will act as a tipping point.
America's media certainly hope so.