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California Senator Dianne Feinstein and 22 other Democrats have introduced a bill in the Senate to once again ban assault weapons, so get ready for a million angry website comments from gunhumpers that there is no such thing as an “assault weapon,” and even if there were, banning them won’t work to reduce crime but will also work so well that liberty itself is threatened.

The bill would outlaw “the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of 205 military-style assault weapons by name,” as well as banning the sale or manufacture of

any assault weapon that accepts a detachable ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics including a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock.

The sale of magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds would also be prohibited. Owners of existing assault rifles and high-capacity magazines would be allowed to keep them, but any sales of existing weapons would have to go through a federally licensed firearms dealer and would be subject to a criminal background check. That would effectively end the private sale of assault weapons at gun shows, though other private firearms sales would still be subject to the “gun show loophole.”

In her statement accompanying the summary of the bill, Feinstein wrote,

This bill won’t stop every mass shooting, but it will begin removing these weapons of war from our streets. The first Assault Weapons Ban was just starting to show an effect when the NRA stymied its reauthorization in 2004. Yes, it will be a long process to reduce the massive supply of these assault weapons in our country, but we’ve got to start somewhere.

To those who say now isn’t the time, they’re right—we should have extended the original ban 13 years ago, before hundreds more Americans were murdered with these weapons of war. To my colleagues in Congress, I say do your job.

The bill would also ban the sale or transfer of high-capacity magazines, so people who already own the things could keep them, but they wouldn’t be able to stock up and resell them once the ban goes into effect. Grandfathered weapons would have to be stored in a gun safe or have a trigger lock, and the ban would also prohibit bump-fire stocks “and other devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at fully automatic rates.” It’s like Feinstein doesn’t want anyone to have any fun ever again.

In addition to the predictable gunhumper complaint that if you use even slightly inaccurate terminology (“assault rifle,” for instance, can ONLY describe a military weapon that can fire fully automatically), we can also look forward to the complaint that the 1994 assault weapons ban did nothing to curb crime or mass shootings, which is actually debatable — there’s good evidence that mass shootings did decline while the earlier ban was in effect, but the question of causality is difficult to nail down. It’s certainly clear that the number of high-casualty mass shootings increased significantly after the ban expired in 2004, so perhaps we should enact another similar ban, if only for the sake of getting a better statistical sample. (Yes, try that argument with gunhumpers!)

While Feinstein’s bill has little chance of passing this Senate, it’s another chance to get Republicans to say some incredibly stupid things on the record about guns, and it should certainly liven up our Dear ShitFerBrains columns, so we’re all for it. Plus, you know: What if it passed?

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[Senator Dianne Feinstein / HuffPost]

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