DENVER (KDVR) — U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette pushed for the reinstatement of a national ban on high-powered firearms, like the AR-15 rifle and high-capacity magazines.
DeGette introduced the bill on Wednesday with her Democratic colleague from Rhode Island, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline. The two were flanked by survivors of gun violence as DeGette recalled Columbine High School and the theater in Aurora, where the mass shooters used the kinds of weapons she seeks to ban.
“Frankly, there is no legitimate reason why any civilian in this country needs a gun that holds 30, 60 or even 100 rounds,” DeGette said at the news conference. “These devices aren’t designed for hunting. These devices are designed for war.”
DeGette’s original bill — the Keep Americans Safe Act, which included the high-capacity magazine ban — was folded into Cicilline’s existing assault weapons bill, her office said.
House Democrats led a successful vote on Cicilline’s bill in July, but the Senate did not take it up. Its future seems dim in the Republican-controlled House.
The bill in its current form would ban a long list of high-powered guns, along with magazines that can hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition.
Biden wants to sign ban high-powered firearms
Once banned in the U.S., high-powered firearms are now widely blamed as the weapon of choice among young men responsible for many of the most devastating mass shootings. But Congress allowed the restrictions first put in place in 1994 on the manufacture and sales of the weapons to expire a decade later, unable to muster the political support to counter the powerful gun lobby and reinstate the weapons ban.
There are many more types of these high-powered guns today than in 1994, when the ban was first signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
President Joe Biden was instrumental in helping secure the 1990s ban as a senator. He has said, including after the Colorado Springs nightclub shooting and again after back-to-back shootings in California, that he wants to sign a law to ban high-powered guns. The White House has said that while the original ban was in place, mass shootings declined, and when it expired in 2004, shootings tripled.
What’s in the bill to ban some guns?
In the DeGette-Cicilline bill, the ban would not apply to the weapons and high-capacity magazines someone had before the law would go into effect. The full text of the bill lists which weapons would be prohibited and which would be exempt.
Here are the weapons that would be banned, as summarized by DeGette’s office:
- All semi-automatic rifles that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one of the following military features: pistol grip; forward grip; folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; grenade launcher; barrel shroud; or threaded barrel
- All semi-automatic rifles that have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 15 rounds
- Bump fire stocks and any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment or accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun
- All semi-automatic pistols that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one of the following military features: threaded barrel; second pistol grip; barrel shroud; capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip; or semi-automatic version of an automatic firearm
- All semi-automatic shotguns that have at least one of the following: a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; pistol grip; fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than five rounds; ability to accept a detachable magazine; forward grip; grenade launcher; or shotgun with a revolving cylinder
- High-capacity magazines capable of accepting more than 15 rounds
State lawmakers in Colorado are working on a semiautomatic weapons ban of their own. If passed, the ambitious legislation would make Colorado the 10th state in the nation to ban the sale and transfer of certain semiautomatic guns while grandfathering in the state’s existing ones.
Gun groups have continuously challenged such bans in Colorado.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.