WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) –
A retooled U.S. assault-weapons ban to be introduced Thursday was to include handguns and shotguns in addition to rifles, The Washington Times reported.
The bill, by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), D-Calif., titled “The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013,” was also expected to decrease the number of military-style features a gun may have before it’s considered an assault weapon to one from two, the newspaper said.
An assault weapon is typically a semiautomatic firearm having features similar to those of a military firearm. Military-style features include pistol grips, flash suppressors, bayonet lugs or grenade launchers.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a ban similar to Feinstein’s proposed ban last week.
National Rifle Association President David Keene said Wednesday New York’s bolstered ban on assault weapons was likely unconstitutional and his organization planned to file a “notice of claim” against the state — the first step toward a possible lawsuit.
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for the majority provided Second Amendment protection for commonly used and popular handguns, but not for atypical arms or arms used for unlawful purposes, such as sawed-off shotguns.
Feinstein’s bill would also create a national gun registry for the government to track lawful gun owners, the Times said.
Magazines, or ammunition storage and feeding devices within or attached to a repeating firearm, would be limited to 10 rounds, the newspaper said.
President Barack Obama said a top priority is to get “an assault weapons ban that is meaningful” passed this year.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., was to provide the backdrop for the Feinstein bill as Democratic Sens. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, as well as Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), whose district includes Newtown, were to join Feinstein, officials said.
Twenty students and six staff members at the elementary school were killed with an assault weapon.
Blumenthal told Hearst Newspapers the new bill would “be a more stringent measure than the assault weapon ban that existed from 1994 to 2004.”
He said the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines would work hand in hand with heightened school security and mental-health reform.
Congress passed the 1994 assault-weapons ban, which Feinstein wrote, Sept. 13, 1994, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law the same day. The ban expired 10 years later, as part of the law’s “sunset provision.”
Critics of the ban have said it was ineffective because gun companies simply re-engineered weapons to get around its requirements.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden was to talk about gun control online at 1:45 p.m. EST Thursday in a “Fireside Hangout” through the Google Plus social network.
The 30-minute online remix of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous radio fireside chats, moderated by “PBS NewsHour” journalist Hari Sreenivasan, was to be streamed live on the White House’s Google Plus page, its YouTube channel and whitehouse.gov.
Biden is to continue the administration’s push for gun control during talks with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), D-Va., in Richmond Friday.
Kaine was Virginia’s governor during the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in which senior-year student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people before taking his own life.