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Senators Seek To Curb, Not Ban, Assault Weapons; NRA Balks

One of the first votes Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) cast was against legislation proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to reinstate an assault weapons ban in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting. In the decade since, as mass shootings have touched almost every corner of the U.S., Heinrich, an avid hunter once endorsed by the National Rifle Association, has been considering what it would take to draft legislation that avoids banning guns that people use for legitimate purposes while still saving lives, the Associated Press reports. Heinrich said his intent over these past several years was to figure out “how to build something that I think creates a regulatory structure that is not focused on the individual firearm model, but the mechanical properties that make these things dangerous,” and, to “write it in a way that hopefully, one, we can eventually pass, and, two, that can stand up to ... this Supreme Court, not in the 1990s Supreme Court.”

The outcome is a new iteration of gun violence legislation from Heinrich and Sen. Angus King of Maine that focuses on what is often referred to as assault-style weapons and zeroes in on the part of the gun that makes them especially dangerous in mass shootings. Rather than try to ban assault weapons outright, their legislation would essentially regulate such guns to have permanently fixed magazines, limited to 10 rounds for rifles and 15 rounds for some heavy-format pistols. The idea is to reduce a shooter’s ability to fire off dozens of rounds in seconds and prevent them from being able to attach a new magazine to keep shooting. The NRA opposes the legislation as “the most sweeping gun prohibition bill of the 21st century.” Randy Kozuch of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action said the bill would ban “the very types of firearms and magazines most often utilized by Americans for defending themselves and their families.”


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