Since the tragic and unforgivable incident that occurred last month in our community of Newtown, Conn., the National Shooting Sports Foundation has been engaged in discussions with lawmakers to find real solutions for keeping our children and our communities safer. All Americans share the goal of wanting to make our communities and children safer by reducing violence in our society.
Unfortunately, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) bill, S. 150, is not a proposal with that shared goal in mind. Similar efforts have been tried in the past and they have shown no discernible effect on the violent crime rate, which has been greatly reduced in the last two decades, even as gun ownership has become more widespread.
Any serious attempt to work toward our collective goal must begin with addressing unauthorized access to firearms. We believe it is critical to first focus on keeping firearms out of the hands of irresponsible persons and those not legally qualified to possess them. This cannot be done by simply mandating a home storage requirement, as the senator proposes.
Instead of focusing on the troubled individual, Sen. Feinstein has opted to criminalize the choices of law-abiding Americans who legally purchased modern sporting rifles, shotguns and handguns. Her legislation will cover many more firearms, including handguns and shotguns, than did the 1994 ban on semi-automatic rifles, as she seeks to lower the threshold of what firearms would be banned, by requiring only one cosmetic feature to define an “assault weapon” instead of two. The new bill also looks to reinstate the ban on magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
Finally, there is no sunset provision, meaning this bill would ban modern sporting rifles forever. An earlier version of the legislation calls for current, legal owners of modern sporting rifles to be fingerprinted, photographed and have their firearms registered in a federal database. Whether the senator would still seek these onerous and expensive provisions is unclear at this writing.
Sen. Feinstein’s bill does not address the real issues that would prevent further tragedies and is not a serious effort to keep our children and communities safer. Instead she wants to ban commonly owned firearms popular among recreational shooters, collectors and hunters and create a database to track their current owners.
We encourage everyone to call their U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative at 202-224-3121 and demand that they reject S. 150 and its companion bill in the House of Representatives.