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
NJ Court: State Can’t Criminalize Possession of “Pencils” and Other Lawful Objects for Home Self-defense

News  

Friday, June 16, 2017

NJ Court: State Can’t Criminalize Possession of “Pencils” and Other Lawful Objects for Home Self-defense

It is refreshing to finally see some common sense coming out of a court in NJ, as the state is notoriously known for its illogical and Draconian gun laws that do little more than make ...

Goodyear Fires Australian Competitive Shooter over Simple Miscommunication

News  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Goodyear Fires Australian Competitive Shooter over Simple Miscommunication

In the United States there have been a handful of high-profile incidents in which an employer has terminated an employee following the employee’s use of a gun in self-defense while at the workplace. In recent ...

Delaware: Hearing Scheduled for Radical Gun Seizure Legislation

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Delaware: Hearing Scheduled for Radical Gun Seizure Legislation

Tomorrow, the House Administration Committee is scheduled to consider House Bill 222.

Ohio: Pro-Gun Bills Scheduled for Committee Hearing Tomorrow

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ohio: Pro-Gun Bills Scheduled for Committee Hearing Tomorrow

  Tomorrow, June 20, several Second Amendment-related bills are scheduled to be heard in the House Committee on Federalism and Interstate Relations.  Please contact the committee members in support of the following pro-gun bills!

Rotary Turns 180 Degrees on Restrictive Firearm Policies

News  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rotary Turns 180 Degrees on Restrictive Firearm Policies

In March, we reported on a series of restrictive policies governing firearms that had been approved by the governing body of the well-known networking and service club, Rotary International. This week came a welcome turn ...

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.

California: Pre-Litigation Letter Sent to DOJ Opposing “Bullet Button Assault Weapon” Regulations

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

California: Pre-Litigation Letter Sent to DOJ Opposing “Bullet Button Assault Weapon” Regulations

On Monday, June 19, the NRA and CRPA’s legal team submitted a joint-letter to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and Office of Administrative law demanding that the regulations be withdrawn or not approved as the regulations exceed ...

UK: Police Commissioner Suggests Value of Armed Citizenry, is Quickly Rebuffed

News  

Friday, June 16, 2017

UK: Police Commissioner Suggests Value of Armed Citizenry, is Quickly Rebuffed

Every once in a great while, an independent-minded United Kingdom official is overcome with a bout of common sense on firearms. However, such outbursts of reason are typically short-lived, as the gun control apostate becomes ...

Why The United States Needs To Unite On Carry Reciprocity

News  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Why The United States Needs To Unite On Carry Reciprocity

In an educational op-ed posted Thursday at newyorkdailynews.com, criminologist and author John Lott makes the case that the previous day’s shooting at a GOP Congressional baseball practice proves why the country needs national Right-to-Carry reciprocity.

Delaware: Anti-Gun Bill Hearing Cancelled

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Delaware: Anti-Gun Bill Hearing Cancelled

Today, thanks to your calls and emails, the Delaware House Administration Committee cancelled its hearing on anti-gun House Bill 222.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
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.