Feinstein's Bill Bans Guns That Have Detachable Magazine and 'One Military Characteristic'

By Penny Starr | February 27, 2013 | 3:49 PM EST

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) opened a hearing Wednesday on proposed gun control legislation by highlighting some of what’s in Senate Bill 150, including any guns with “one military characteristic.”

“Let me now describe the key features of our new legislation, the ‘Assault Weapons Ban of 2013,’” said Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The bill bans the sale, transfer, importation, and manufacturing of 157 specifically named semiautomatic assault weapons.

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“It also bans any other assault weapon, which is defined as a semiautomatic weapon that can accept a detachable magazine and has one military characteristic, such as a pistol grip, barrel shroud, or folding stock,” Feinstein said. “These features were developed for military weapons to make them more effective and efficient at killing people in close-combat situations.”

Feinstein said “military-style” “assault weapons” were used in mass shootings.

“The one common thread running through these mass shootings in recent years--from Aurora, Colorado, to Tucson, Arizona, to Blacksburg, Virginia--is that the gunman used a military-style, semiautomatic assault weapon or large-capacity ammunition magazine to commit the unspeakable horror,” Feinstein said.

Dictionary.com defines an “assault weapon” as:

1. A military rifle capable of both automatic and semiautomatic fire, utilizing an intermediate-power cartridge.

2. A non-military weapon modeled on the military assault rifle, usually modified to allow only semiautomatic fire.

Attorney and Second Amendment advocate David Hardy testified that the term “assault weapon” is misleading.

“To sum it up,” Hardy said in his prepared remarks, “the term assault rifle has a specific meaning, but requires the firearm in question be capable of full automatic fire; that is the reason for halving its power.

“If made into a semi automatic, it is simply a semi-auto with half military power,” Hardy said.

“Because ‘semi-automatic assault rifle’ is a contradiction in terms, legislation aimed at this fiction arbitrarily focus upon considerations such as a firearm’s trade name or its appearance.”

Neil Heslin's son Jesse Lewis was killed by a deranged gunman last year at an elementary school in Connecticut. Heslin testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 27, 2013. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member on the committee, said everyone agrees they do not want another tragedy like the murders of 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary school last year – the tragedy that launched the new push for gun control laws.

“There are vast numbers of gun control laws in our country,” Grassley said in his prepared remarks. “Criminals do not obey them but law-abiding citizens do.

“That tilts the scales in favor of criminals who use guns,” Grassley said.  “If gun control laws were effective in reducing crime, they would have produced lower crime by now.”

Feinstein and other Democrat members of the committee hosted many of the parents whose children died at Sandy Hook Elementary School at the hearing. The families of victims in other shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Blacksburg, Va., were also at in attendance.

Neil Heslin, who lost his son Jesse Lewis, sobbed as he recalled the “worst day of my life.”

Dr. William Begg, an emergency room physician who has two children at the school and treated victims, fought back tears as he told senators that he supported a ban on “assault weapons.”