Congressional Democrats, including our very own Senator Feinstein, are introducing legislation that would bring much needed gun control, all be it minor control, to our nation. At present there are two noteworthy bills in the House and as I am sure you can guess no Republicans are co-sponsors to the bills. Neither bill is being reviewed by any of the committees that Rep. Hunter sits on thus let us contact him and ask him to consider becoming a cosponsor, and to vote for the bills if/when they come to the floor for a vote.
Before looking at these bills, a few basics about guns…. Guns, of which there are 371 million in the USA (we have a population of roughly 319 million people), are divided into three different categories: handguns, rifles and shotguns (http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp#_ftn7). As the name implies, handguns (also called pistols) are held in the hand and usually can be held and fired using one hand. In order to fire a rifle or shotgun they are placed against the shoulder or are on a mount, in other words these are not simply held in one’s hand (https://www.nraila.org/about/glossary/). Another basic difference between guns is what happens after the shot is fired. Back when the second amendment was written, an individual had to stop after he (or she) fired the weapon and manually reload before firing again, needless to say this slowed down the pace of firing. As with most things from 1776, technology has created drastic changes (for a history of guns: http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/technique/gun-timeline/, for an interesting look at what the second amendment was actually intended for, was about: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/amendment-don-article-1.1223900).
Most of us are familiar, be it from images or our handling of guns, of a handgun/pistol that has a barrel with the capacity to hold 4 – 6 bullets, meaning that after 4 – 6 shots the person has to stop and reload the weapon; well technology has changed that too. Modern day magazines (the container on a gun where the bullets are stored) allow for a gun to have 10, 20, 50 or even more bullets available to the person without the person ever stopping and re-loading. This is true for both semi-automatic and automatic weapons. The difference between a semi-automatic and an automatic weapon is not how many bullets they can fire before the person has to reload; it is how many bullets they can fire with one pull of the trigger. A semi-automatic weapon fires one shot per trigger pull, so if the magazine holds 50 bullets the person has to pull the trigger 50 times to fire each bullet. An automatic weapon on the other hand allows the gun to fire continuously with one pull of the trigger, so those 50 bullets can be fired with one trigger pull. While automatic weapons are illegal for civilians to own, bump stocks, which are legal and can be bought for $100- $200 turn a semi-automatic weapon essentially into an automatic weapon, meaning that with one pull of the trigger a multitude of bullets are fired (https://www.nraila.org/about/glossary/, http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp#_ftn7, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-04/gun-buyers-bid-up-bump-fire-stocks-used-in-las-vegas-massacre, http://abcnews.go.com/US/bump-stocks-turn-semi-automatic-rifles-automatic-weapons/story?id=50283860).
Senator Feinstein has introduced a bill (S. 1916: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1916/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22Feinstein%22%5D%7D&r=2) into the Senate that would ban bump stocks and other devices that essentially turn semi-automatic guns into automatic weapons. The House has a companion version of this bill which is sponsored by David Cicilline, co-sponsored by 173 Democrats and 0 Republicans, and is HR 3947 the “Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act”. Like Feinstein’s bill, HR 3947 would make it illegal to “import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess” any device that “accelerate[s] the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle” (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3947/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22cicilline%22%5D%7D&r=1). Needless to say this bill would not apply to any federal or state government agency. And that is the extent of this bill – so to be clear, this bill does not take away anyone’s guns, it does not limit the amount of bullets in a magazine; all it does is ensure that a semi-automatic weapon remains semi-automatic, meaning that one bullet is fired with one pull of the trigger, if you want to fire two bullets you have to pull the trigger twice. It has been reported that Republicans might be open to legislation that limits bump stocks and there are reports that Republican members of the House might be drafting a Republican version of this bill thus asking Rep. Hunter to support this bill is not asking him to break with his party (https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2017-10-05/paul-ryan-house-republicans-open-to-bump-stock-ban-after-las-vegas-shooting).
HR 4052 the, “Keep Americans Safe Act” is sponsored by Elizabeth Esty, co-sponsored by 85 Democrats and 0 Republicans. As with HR 3947 this bill would not apply to law enforcement, federal or state government agencies. This bill goes further than the bump stock legislation and would make it illegal to import, possess or to transfer to someone a magazine (or any other device that contains the bullets for a gun) that is larger than 10 bullets (the bill refers to such magazines as “large capacity” magazines). All large capacity magazines/devices in possession before this bill became law would be grandfathered in. Should someone import, posses or transfer a “large capacity ammunition feeding device” there would be a fine and/or up to 10 years in jail. An exception to this law would be .22 caliber rimfire ammunition, which is a small bullet and vastly popular, due to its size this bullet is often used in close range, such as 10 feet or less (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/4052/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22HR+4052%22%5D%7D&r=1,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rimfire_(firearms)). As Nevada Representative Jacky Rosen said, ““High capacity magazines have no practical purpose for hunting or self defense,” and as her fellow Nevada Representative Dina Titus stated, high capacity magazines endanger citizens, “by allowing dangerous shooters to fire more rounds without reloading” (http://www.sierrasun.com/news/nevada-democrats-join-bill-to-ban-high-capacity-gun-magazines/).
Both HR 3947 and HR 4052 are as common sense as common sense gets. So let us contact Rep. Hunter and urge him to support these measures. Now, in case you need a little humor – watch this spoof report on the ‘National Rifle Addiction’ plaguing the US as shown on a Dutch commentary show: https://youtu.be/a-o9pwWUzz0