In a move that is apparently calculated to keep Republicans from becoming too unpopular, Senate Democrats intend to introduce gun control legislation that is similar to bills that Americans have rejected many times previously.
The Washington Examiner reports that, true to form, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calf.) is leading the charge on a bill that would ban more than 200 types of semi-automatic (the trigger must be pulled for every bullet fired) guns and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The bill would also ban devices that increase the rate of fire like the bump stock used by Stephen Paddock in the Las Vegas massacre as well as require background checks for private gun sales and mandate “safe storage” for other guns.
“We’re introducing an updated Assault Weapons Ban for one reason – so that after every mass shooting with a military-style assault weapon, the American people will know that a tool to reduce these massacres is sitting in the Senate, ready for debate and a vote,” Feinstein said in a statement.
With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress and a president who is at least nominally pro-gun, Feinstein’s bill has approximately no chance of becoming law. It is far more likely that the bill will instead inspire gun owners to get out the vote to resist Democrats in 2018. Voters who might have stayed home due to their unhappiness with the ineffective Republican administration in Washington will be more likely to go to the polls because at least the Republicans aren’t “gun-grabbers” like Feinstein and the Democrats.
While a recent Politico poll found a slight majority in favor of new gun controls after Las Vegas, almost half of independents say that protecting gun rights is more important than limiting gun ownership. Respondents were equally split on which party better handles the gun issue.
Feinstein’s new “assault weapons” ban follows on the ban instituted by the Clinton Administration in 1994. The ban did not cause a drop in the crime rate and, when it expired 10 years later, there was no corresponding increase in crime. In fact, the definitive study on the gun ban, by Christopher Koper of George Mason University in 2004, found that the ban “had not had a discernible impact on gun crime during the years it was in effect.” So Dianne Feinstein is proposing to revisit an old policy that is ineffective as well as unpopular.
What the Feinstein bill may effectively do is remind blue collar voters why they voted for Donald Trump in the First place. The president is not popular and Democrats in Congress have all but shut down the Republican agenda. Nevertheless, a new assault weapons ban is the sort of overreach that can generate enthusiastic resistance for Republicans among gun owners.
Dianne Feinstein, the stereotypical SanFranciso anti-gunner, has provided the NRA with a villain for decades. Now, as Republicans struggle to give their base a reason to vote for them in 2018, it is Feinstein who rides to the rescue with the stereotypical San Francisco solution to any problem involving crime or violence, namely taking guns away from law-abiding citizens.
President Trump should send her a thank you note.