California Sen. Dianne Feinstein — a top Democrat and leading liberal voice in the Senate — vowed on Sunday to reintroduce a federal ban on assault weapons and urged President Barack Obama to lead on the issue.
“I can tell you that he is going to have a bill to lead on because as a first-day bill I’m going to introduce in the Senate and the same bill will be introduced in the House - a bill to ban assault weapons,” Feinstein said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession. Not retroactively but prospectively. And it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets.”
Her remarks come just two day after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — where Adam Lanza reportedly used a Bushmaster .223 assault rifle to kill 26 people, including 20 children.
Assault weapons were banned under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 to 2004, but Congress allowed the ban to lapse. Obama has said he would support a reintroducing of the bill.
“There will be a bill. We’ve been working on it now for a year,” Feinstein said. “We’ve tried to take my bill from ‘94 to 2004 and perfect it. We believe we have. We exempt over 900 specific weapons that will not fall under the bill. But the purpose of this bill is to get just what Mayor Bloomberg said, weapons of war, off the streets of our cities.”
Feinstein said that skeptics didn’t believe that she could get the original assault weapons ban through Congress, including then Sen. Joe Biden.
“I told Joe Biden, who was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that I was going to move this as an amendment on the crime bill, he laughed at me,” Feinstein said. “He said, ‘You’re new here. Wait till you learn.’”
“We got it through the Senate. We got it through the House. The White House came alive, and the House of Representatives and the Clinton administration helped. The bill was passed and the president signed it. It can be done,” she said.