Sen. Dianne Feinstein To Introduce Gun Control Legislation
Monday, December 17, 2012
Aired 12/18/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Charlie Blek is president of the Orange County chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. His son was shot to death 20 years ago.
Adam Winkler Professor of Law UCLA School of Law who specializes in constitutional law with expertise in the right to bear arms he has written about the history of guns in the United States and is author of the book, "Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America"
U.S. Gun Laws: A History
1791: The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified. The amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
1871: The National Rifle Association was formed by Union Army veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate.
1934: The National Firearms Act passes in response to gangster culture during Prohibition. The law implements a tax on the making and transfer of automatic-fire guns, shotguns and rifles.
1939: Supreme Court upholds a federal ban on sawed-off shotguns, implying that the Founding Fathers adopted the amendment to ensure the then-new federal government could not disarm state militias.
1968: Congress passes the Gun Control Act. The law calls for better control of interstate traffic of firearms. Lee Harvey Oswald used a mail-order gun to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.
1976 D.C. City Council bars residents from owning handguns.
1986: The Firearm Owner's Protection Act is approved by Congress . The law prohibits felons from owning or possessing guns or ammunition. The Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act is also passed. It prohibits the manufacturing, importing and selling of ammunition that can penetrate a bulletproof vest.
1993: Congress passes the The Brady Handgun Violence Act, establishing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System gun dealers are to use before selling a gun. The law is named after former White House Press Secretary James Brady, who was shot in the head during the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
1994: The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act becomes law. The law banned the manufacture, use, possession and import of 19 types of assault weapons, including AK-47s and Uzis. The law expired in 2004.
2007: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rules in favor of Dick Anthony Heller, 66, an armed security guard who sues the district after it rejects his application to keep a handgun at his home in Capitol Hill. District appeals to Supreme Court.
June 2008: The Supreme Court upholds the lower court ruling, striking down D.C. handgun ban as unconstitutional.
Bills to return a ban on assault weapons in the United States will be introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives on the first day they are in session next month, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein vowed on national television on Sunday.
"We've tried to take my bill from '94 to 2004 and perfect it,'' the California Democrat said on the NBC "Meet The Press'' program.
Feinstein authored a federal ban on assault weapons in 1994, a ban that was allowed to expire by Congress in 2004.
On NBC, California's senior senator said her staff has crafted a bill that would "exempt over 900 specific weapons that will not ... fall under the bill.''
She said the 1994 assault rifle bill that she wrote was never challenged in court by the National Rifle Association.
"Back in '93, when I told Joe Biden who was chairman of the Judiciary Committee that I was going to move this as an amendment on the Crime Bill, he laughed at me,'' Feinstein said.
"He said, `you're new here. Wait till you learn','' Feinstein related.
"And we got it through the Senate, we got it through the House, the White House came alive and ... the bill was passed.''
The NRA has declined to comment on gun issues since Friday's slaying of 20 grade school children and seven adults in Connecticut.
In 2002, the proposed extension of the assault weapons ban was opposed by the Coalition Against the Semi-Auto Ban, a project of the National Association for Gun Rights.
The group said the original legislation violated the right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment; claiming that what the law called assault weapons were rarely used in crimes and that specifying a type of weapon for a ban was a tactic that would lead to banning all weapons.
Feinstein, who just won her fifth Senate election, was propelled to the forefront of California politics when she suddenly became mayor of San Francisco when Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated there in 1978. She has been a leading voice for gun control since then.