Broadest gun ban in two decades clears Senate committee

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“These weapons of war, when combined with high capacity magazines, have one purpose: to inflict maximum damage as quickly as possible,” Mr. Obama said after Thursday’s committee vote. “They are designed for the battlefield, and they have no place on our streets, in our schools, or threatening our law enforcement officers.”

Mrs. Feinstein’s bill would reinstitute and tighten the original assault weapons ban. It applies to semiautomatic rifles that have add-ons such as detachable stocks, barrel shrouds or pistol grips, and to rifles or pistols that can accept magazines with more than 10 rounds.

Sales of automatic rifles are already generally banned under federal law and some states have varyingly written bans on semiautomatic assault weapons.

After the Sandy Hook shooting, other states have moved to pass tighter controls, including Connecticut, where the rampage took place.

On Thursday, the president of one of the nation’s oldest gun manufacturers closed down his factory in the Nutmeg State and bused 400 of his workers to the Connecticut Capitol so they could personally lobby against new gun control legislation they said would cost them their livelihood, according to The Associated Press.

Thursday’s debate was both broad and heated, with weighty constitutional questions at stake.

At one point, Mr. Cruz, a lawyer who has argued a major gun case before the Supreme Court, asked Mrs. Feinstein whether Congress could write legislation that placed limits on what books were legal under the First Amendment.

She prickled at the question, telling him not to treat her like a “sixth-grader.”

“I’ve looked at bodies that have been shot with these weapons. I’ve seen the bullets that implode. In Sandy Hook, youngsters were dismembered,” she said. “I’m reasonably well educated. Thank you for the lecture.”

She said her bill specifically approved the sale of 2,271 types of firearms, and she wondered why anyone would need some other weapon not included.

Mrs. Feinstein said Congress’ job is to pass laws, and said she thinks her bill would survive Supreme Court scrutiny, though she said it’s the justices’ job to make that final decision.

“If they strike down the law, they strike down the law,” she said.

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