House Democrats back new ban on semi-automatic weapons

A majority of Democrats in the House are signing on to support a new assault weapons ban aimed at making certain weapons illegal. From the Hill:

The legislation would make it “unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a semiautomatic assault weapon.”

However, the ban wouldn’t apply to semi-automatic weapons that were “lawfully possessed” when the measure went into effect.

The bill also requires the attorney general to create a public record of semiautomatic assault weapons that have been used in crimes.

That grandfather clause pretty much guarantees this bill is going to generate a lot of gun sales. The Washington Examiner has a bit more on what the bill would ban:

The bill prohibits the “sale, transfer, production, and importation” of semi-automatic rifles and pistols that can hold a detachable magazine, as well as semi-automatic rifles with a magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds. Additionally, the legislation bans the sale, transfer, production, and importation of semi-automatic shotguns with features such as a pistol grip or detachable stock, and ammunition feeding devices that can hold more than 10 rounds.

Cicilline’s legislation names 205 specific firearms that are prohibited, including the AK-47 and AR-15.

The Washington Post reports 156 of the 193 members of the House Democratic caucus are already in support of the new bill and is a sign that Democrats are going all in on this:

The legislation, introduced by Reps. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), gained support over the weekend as most Democrats were at home in their districts. There’s no evidence that the Republican-controlled House would bring the bill to a vote, but the list of sponsors offers hints about whether the party’s politics are moving.

Democrats can’t bring this to a vote now but the implied message this November will be ‘Elect us and we’ll ban guns.’ If they are able to take back the House, that would get them part of the way there, though they would likely face a filibuster in the Senate, even if Democrats manage to take that chamber as well.

There’s also a chance this move could backfire. This is one of those issues which will not only sell more guns but will also rally the people who support them into action. As I suggested a few days ago, whether or not this works out for Democrats (or Republicans) may depend on whether or not there is another mass shooting involving an AR-15 over the next few months. If that happens, the issue will stay at the forefront of media attention. If not, the media will eventually move on to another issue. November is still a long way away.