The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee gave the go-ahead Thursday to an assault weapons ban on a 10-8 party line vote.
The bill, sponsored by Californias Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, would ban semi-automatic weapons that fire and automatically reload, take a detachable magazine and have any military features. It would also ban magazines carrying more than 10 rounds. The ban would apply to more than 150 types of semi-automatic weapons sold.
These weapons were thrust into the national spotlight after Newtown shooter Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut using 30-round magazines.
Staunch defenders of the Second Amendment say the weapons are used for self-defense and hunting, and law-abiding citizens should not have their rights infringed upon.Among the most stringent members opposed to the bill was Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, who said the ban was akin to banning books and infringing upon Americans' First Amendment rights.
The thumbs up by the judiciary panel came as no surprise to political observers, due to the Democratic majority.The bill was the fourth gun-control measure approved by the group. Previous bills strengthened background checks, upped funding for school safety and made it a crime to buy weapons for others who are banned from ownership.While the other bills have a chance, the assault-weapons ban is not projected to pass the full Senate. Meanwhile, in the Republican-dominated House, it has no hope for survival.
Several similar bills are currently moving through the Florida Legislature. State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, is pushing SB 1670 that would also ban assault weapons and any conversion kits to create them.Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, takes up the issue of universal background checks in her legislation, requiring sales of firearms to occur through licensed dealers. As for school safety, that bill is being shepherded by RepublicanRep. Greg Steube, of Sarasota, with HB 1097, which would allow principals to choose which employees could carry guns at work.
Anne Smith writes special to Sunshine State News.