Efforts to Renew the Ban Assault Weapons


On March 2, 2004, with the ‘sunset’ of the ban on the horizon, assault weapon ban supporter Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) attached a ten-year extension to the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban to the Senate’s Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. With the Feinstein amendment, the bill was voted down 8-90.

Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007.

In February 2007 a bill, H.R. 1022, called the Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007 sponsored by Representative Carolyn McCarthy of New York (D) was introduced that would reinstitute and expand the ban on assault weapons. It reduces the number of requirements for a firearm to be classified as an assault weapon from two to one. It additionally includes, in H.R. 1022 Section L, the expansion of the legal term assault weapon to any:

“… semiautomatic rifle or shotgun originally designed for military or law enforcement use, or a firearm based on the design of such a firearm, that is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, as determined by the Attorney General. In making the determination, there shall be a rebuttalable presumption that a firearm procured for use by the United States military or any Federal law enforcement agency is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, and a firearm shall not be determined to be particularly suitable for sporting purposes solely because the firearm is suitable for use in a sporting event.”

On the April 18, 2007 showing of MSNBC’s program, Tucker, Tucker Carlson interviewed McCarthy concerning the Virginia Tech massacre and her proposed reauthorization of the Assault Weapons Ban. He asked her to explain the need to regulate barrel shrouds, one of the many provisions of the Act. She responded that more importantly the legislation would ban large capacity “clips” used in the Virginia Tech massacre and that the class of guns chosen were those used by gangs and police killers. However, the Virginia Tech shooter did not have high capacity magazines; they were the AWB compliant 10 round variety. After admitting that she did not know what a barrel shroud was, McCarthy incorrectly stated, “I believe it is a shoulder thing that goes up”.

The Bill was referred to the United States House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on March 19, 2007. As of December 17, 2007, the bill had 60 cosponsors.

This bill never became law.

Assault Weapons Ban Reauthorization Act of 2008

H.R. 6257 was introduced by Mark Kirk (R Ill.-10) on 12 June 2008 and sought to re-instate the Assault Weapons Ban for a period of ten years, as well as to expand the list of banned weapons. This bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on July 28, 2008. It had four co-sponsors supporting it: Michael N. Castle (R Del.-1), Mike Ferguson (R N.J.-7), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R Fla.-18) and Christopher Shays (R Conn.-4).

This bill never became law, as it was still in Subcommittee when Congress ended the 110th Session on 3 January 2009.

Urban policy agenda of President Obama

Shortly after the November 4, 2008 election, Change.gov, the website of the office of then President-Elect Barack Obama, listed a detailed agenda for the forthcoming administration. This includes “making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent.” This statement was originally published on Barack Obama’s campaign website, BarackObama.com. When President Obama took office on January 20, 2009, the agenda statement was moved to the administration’s website, WhiteHouse.gov, with its wording intact.

On February 25, 2009, the newly sworn-in Attorney General, Eric Holder, repeated the Obama Administration’s desire to reinstate the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.[19] The mention came in response to a question, about 20 minutes into to a joint press conference with DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart, discussing efforts to crack down on Mexican drug cartels. Attorney General Holder said: “there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons.”

However on April 16, 2009, President Obama stated that he will not push for the reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban in the United States even though he still believes that it “made sense.” Obama has proposed instead to ratify an inter-American treaty known as CIFTA (Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials.) to curb international small arms trafficking. The treaty makes the unauthorized manufacture and exporting of firearms illegal and calls for nations in this hemisphere to establish a process for information-sharing among different countries’ law enforcement divisions to stop the smuggling of arms, to adopt strict licensing requirements, and to make firearms easier to trace.

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