Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Feinstein Wants Obama to Pull a Clinton on Firearm Importation

Friday, March 21, 2014

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), sponsor of the federal "assault weapon" and "large" magazine "ban"  of 1994-2004, is asking President Barack Obama to direct the BATFE to reinterpret a provision of the Gun Control Act of 1968 to prohibit the importation of various semi-automatic firearms and their parts.

In a letter to Obama, the text of which was included in an article published by the Daily Caller on Thursday, Feinstein said that, "at a minimum," the BATFE should:

prohibit importation of all semiautomatic rifles that can accept, or be readily converted to accept, a large capacity ammunition magazine of more than 10 rounds . . . .  prohibit semiautomatic rifles with fixed magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, prohibit the importation of the frame or receiver of any prohibited rifle . . . . prohibit the practice of importing assault rifles in parts ….  prohibit the use of a "thumbhole" stock . . . . and prohibit the importation of assault pistols.

Though Feinstein failed to gain approval of legislation she introduced in Congress last year, which would have imposed the biggest gun ban in American history, she has reason to believe that she could achieve some of her ends through the president's use of his executive authority.  In the 1990s, Feinstein urged then-President Bill Clinton to direct the then-BATF to restrict the importation of semi-automatic rifles, and Clinton agreed.  With the White House saying "we're taking the law and bending it as far as we can to capture a whole new class of guns," the BATF prohibited the importation of semi-automatic rifles capable of using standard magazines holding over 10 rounds.

In its report on its 1998 action, the BATF attempted to justify its decision on the grounds that Feinstein's 1994 law had banned the importation of magazines that held more than 10 rounds.

There were many flaws with that argument, including:

  • The 1994 law didn't define a rifle as an "assault weapon" on the basis of the size of its magazine. Rather, it did so on the basis of its action (semi-automatic), its ability to use a detachable magazine (regardless of the magazine's size), and its attachments, such as a pistol-type grip, and a folding or telescoping stock.
  • The 10-round magazine limit applied to magazines for all types of firearms--rifles, pistols and shotguns. The BATF's decision applied only to rifles.
  • The 1994 law didn't ban the importation of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds made before the law took effect. It banned only the domestic manufacture and importation of such magazines made after the law took effect.
  • Contrary to the BATF's claim that semi-automatic, detachable-magazine rifles "may be used for organized competitive target shooting, [but] their suitability for these competitions is limited," American-made rifles of that type are the most commonly used rifles for organized marksmanship competitions.
  • Feinstein's 1994 ban expired in 2004, but the BATFE has not rescinded its 1998 ban.

In her letter to Obama, Feinstein incorrectly stated that the relevant provision of the Gun Control Act, 18 USC 925(d)(3), "prohibits the importation of firearms that are not generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.'"  (Emphasis added.) Instead, it requires the Attorney General to approve the importation of firearms meeting either standard.  While an important point, however, it may ultimately become moot, as the entire provision has become constitutionally suspect.  In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to keep and bear arms for defensive purposes, not merely for sports.

One might think it doesn't make sense for Feinstein to agitate for gun control in an election year, especially one in which a number of anti-gun senators are going to be facing the voters. However, she is religiously committed to gun control and has been for a long time.

In 1982, then-San Francisco mayor Feinstein said she was "deeply committed" to her proposal to ban the private possession of handguns in the city, even as she carried a handgun for her own protection.  In 1993, she described semi-automatic firearms as "weapons of mass destruction," even as she admitted that the guns she wanted to ban were rarely used in crime.

The same year, Feinstein implied support for banning magazines holding four or more rounds, saying on the Senate floor "I intend to add an amendment that would exempt semiautomatic bolt action (sic) shotguns and bona fide hunting rifles whose clips don't exceed three rounds."

In 1995, Feinstein admitted "there is no question that I would have preferred to see an outright ban on the possession of semiautomatic assault weapons in America, including the 1.5 million to two million currently in circulation. But, simply stated, the votes were not there."  Later, she 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."

In 1995, six months after Feinstein's 1994 ban took effect, CBS 60 Minutes' Leslie Stahl, in a segment titled "What Assault Weapons Ban?" reported that "Assault weapons are still . . . . sold by the thousands." Calling 1994 "the best year for the sales of assault weapons ever," she dismissed as "a good applause line" President Clinton's claim that the ban reduced the number of "assault weapons."  The Christian Science Monitor similarly noted, "gun manufacturers only had to make minor changes to weapons in order to comply with the ban," such as omitting a flash suppressor.

Violent crime had been decreasing and continued to decrease, as Feinstein's "ban" remained in effect. Nevertheless, in 1997, after the Los Angeles Times joined the chorus of news entities reporting the weakness of her ban, Feinstein said she wanted it tightened.

In 1998, Feinstein began introducing bills to expand her 1994 ban's ammunition magazine restriction.  In 2004, knowing she didn't have enough votes to expand the ban, she introduced bills to extend it another 10 years, none of which passed.

With her plea for greater restriction on the importation of firearms, Feinstein continues to badger America for gun control in abject denial of relevant statistics. The nation's murder rate is now at nearly an all-time low, even as Americans have been buying hundreds of thousands of AR-15s annually, including over 800,000 in 2012 alone.

TRENDING NOW
Levi’s Teams with Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to Attack Gun Rights

News  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Levi’s Teams with Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to Attack Gun Rights

Levi Strauss & Co. established its brand in the mid-19th century by selling durable clothing to working-class Americans. As Levi’s signature jeans gained popularity amongst a wider set in the middle of the last century, ...

Who’s BS’ing Now? Gonzalez Argues for Gun Confiscation but Insists She’s “Pro Second Amendment”

News  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Who’s BS’ing Now? Gonzalez Argues for Gun Confiscation but Insists She’s “Pro Second Amendment”

Gun control advocates are constantly looking for the right messenger to push an agenda that boils down to law-abiding Americans giving up their freedoms, their security, and their property without expectation of affecting the behavior ...

Jamie Lee Curtis “Proves” She is Not Anti-gun by Stating her Support for Banning Guns?!?!

News  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Jamie Lee Curtis “Proves” She is Not Anti-gun by Stating her Support for Banning Guns?!?!

Actors and actresses should generally stick to what they know best; repeating the lines others have written for them. Jamie Lee Curtis recently decided to try to explain, in her own words, how much she ...

Round Two: Gun Rights Groups Prevail (Again) in Second Challenge to Firearm Restrictions in Delaware’s State Parks, Forests

News  

Gun Laws  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Round Two: Gun Rights Groups Prevail (Again) in Second Challenge to Firearm Restrictions in Delaware’s State Parks, Forests

Gun rights groups, including the NRA’s Delaware affiliate, the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, scored an encore legal victory this week when the Superior Court of the State of Delaware invalidated parts of newly promulgated regulations ...

Senator from Tennessee or Times Square? Bloomberg Hosts Manhattan Fundraiser for Phil Bredesen

News  

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Senator from Tennessee or Times Square? Bloomberg Hosts Manhattan Fundraiser for Phil Bredesen

Is Phil Bredesen running for U.S. Senate to represent Memphis or Manhattan? Rocky Top or Rockefeller Center? Appalachia or the Big Apple? Tennessee voters might wonder after billionaire gun control financier and former-New York City ...

Politics over Data: The Rhode Island Working Group

News  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Politics over Data: The Rhode Island Working Group

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo convened a task force focused on “gun safety” last April, comprised predominantly of members drawn from “the judiciary, the Attorney General’s Office, state and local law enforcement agencies, gun violence prevention ...

Bloomberg Finds Home in Today’s Democratic Party

News  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Bloomberg Finds Home in Today’s Democratic Party

In what observers have pegged as a preparatory step for a presidential run in 2020, on October 10 billionaire gun control financier and former-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg registered as a Democrat. Bloomberg ran as ...

Anti-gun Researcher Refutes His Own Anti-gun Conclusion

News  

Friday, October 5, 2018

Anti-gun Researcher Refutes His Own Anti-gun Conclusion

Doctor Garen Wintemute’s latest contribution to “the prevention of firearm violence” comes in the form of a Perspective column published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Wintemute, you may recall, is the Director of ...

Don’t Let Your State’s Governor Mansion Become a Gun-Free Home

News  

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Don’t Let Your State’s Governor Mansion Become a Gun-Free Home

While Congressional elections will likely get the lion’s share of media coverage leading up to November 6, gun owners know that threats to our Right to Keep and Bear Arms do not only emanate from ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.