House Democrats are rallying behind a bill that would outright ban American citizens from purchasing “assault” weapons, claiming that they only serve to inflict human casualties and have no place in the hands of civilians. Despite broad support by left-leaning Congress members, the bill has virtually no chance to pass into law thanks to overwhelming Republican opposition.
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Rhode Island Democrat Steve Cicilline plans to introduce the bill on Wednesday, called the Assault Weapons Ban of 2015. President Bill Clinton originally signed a bill with largely the same provisions during his time in office, but it expired over a decade ago and has not been successfully brought to bear since. Cicilline pointed to the marked increase in mass shootings over the last several years as a sign that such legislation needs to pass.
“Assault weapons are designed for the sole purpose of killing as many people as quickly as possible,” Cicilline said in a statement to The Hill. “We need to do everything we can to reduce the toll of gun violence by keeping these weapons out of our communities.” Cicilline has been joined by around 90 Democratic cosponsors who have thrown their names behind the bill.
If passed into law, the bill would halt the manufacture of assault weapons and place restrictions on sales of currently existing firearms. Those who own assault weapons would be able to keep them, with the caveat that they would have significantly more trouble trying to sell them if they so choose. It would also require stricter background checks for those looking to purchase assault weapons, including the closure of a loophole that allowed gun vendors to sell assault weapons to anyone if their FBI background check took longer than three days.
President Barack Obama has repeatedly called for legislation like Cicilline’s bill to pass through Congress, insisting that the recent spat of mass shootings is linked to the ease of acquiring firearms. However, the GOP, which historically supports the Second Amendment and enjoys a majority in both chambers of Congress, is almost certain to unanimously oppose the ban.