On May 8, two bills to expand the 1994 Clinton Gun Ban, the so-called "assault weapon" law, were introduced in Congress. In the House of Representatives, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy introduced H.R. 2038, a bill to ban millions more guns than the Clinton ban does, by arbitrarily changing the federal definition of "assault weapon" so that it applies to more guns and basic types of guns than before. The bill also ban millions more ammunition magazines than the Clinton ban does, and it begins backdoor registration of gun owners. (Click here for the H.R. 2038 fact sheet.)
In the Senate, the 1994 law's authors, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. (then-Rep.) Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), introduced S. 1034. The bill is less extreme than McCarthy's, which they hope will give it a greater chance of passage. The two senators' recently explained their strategy:
Feinstein also said she would like to push for stronger gun controls, but "it isn't in the cards right now." "We know that if we push it too far, we'll have no bill," Schumer added. (Los Angeles Times, May 9, 2003.)
When Sen. Feinstein says "right now," it has a special meaning. She is already on record supporting gun confiscation, having said, "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren't there." --CBS 60 Minutes, Dec. 5, 1995
- It Permanently bans millions of guns and ammunition magazines, including magazines used in the most popular target shooting rifles and conventional handguns. Congress limited the Clinton Gun Ban to a 10-year trial period, and mandated that during that period a study be conducted of its effectiveness. The study found that the law has had little, if any, effect on crime, because "the banned weapons and magazines were never involved in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders." (Urban Institute, "Impact Evaluation of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994," 3/13/97.) Obviously, the law should not have been imposed, and it deserves to terminate on schedule.
- It expands the Clinton Gun Ban by banning the importation of magazines. Currently, all magazines made before the Clinton ban took effect are legal. Most guns that would be affected by a new ban on imported magzines are expensive, conventional handguns, like Brownings and Berettas.
- It Places legitimate importers at increased risk of groundless prosecution for a 10-year felony offense. Under the 1994 law, when a person is charged with possessing a magazine manufactured after the law's effective date, the government has the burden of proving that the magazine was manufactured after that date. However, S. 1034 does not impose the same burden of proof upon the government if a person is charged with importing a magazine manufactured after that date. The omission is designed to intimidate legitimate importers into not importing magazines at all, for fear that, unbeknowst to them, even a single magazine they imported might have been manufactured after that date.