In the wake of the horrific tragedy in Newton, Connecticut, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) announced she would introduce a bill re-instating the federal ban on assault weapons on the first day of the new Congress in January.
The assault weapons ban was originally enacted during the Clinton administration. A decade later the Bush administration allowed it to lapse.
President Obama “is going to have a bill to lead on,” Feinstein said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The bill would aim to take “weapons of war off the streets of our cities.” “It can be done,” she added. “It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession, not retroactively, prospectively. And it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets.”
It should come as no surprise that Feinstein is stepping up on this issue. She was a prominent sponsor of the original ban and is considered a leading gun control advocate in Congress. And frankly, this is an issue where women will need to take the lead. The same socially-repressive groups that embrace unfettered access to guns actively legislate against women’s autonomy, and both policies play out on the lives of women and children across this country in unspeakable tragedies. This is a feminist issue and requires a feminist response.
It’s a first step. But we can do better.
Feinstein’s proposal would tackle the sale of assault weapons in the future, but does nothing to get rid of those already in circulation. And the same is true for high capacity magazines and clips. With the country already awash in these kinds of weapons and ammunition already, Feinstein’s measure is a start but leaves open the question of what to do with the weapons we already have.
We can’t afford to let this last tragedy go unanswered, so Feinstein’s efforts need to be supported while they are also critiqued. The bill needs to move forward because what we know from these kinds of shootings is the next one will only be more gruesome, more violent. And what can be worse than Sandy Hook?
Photo from brianch via flickr.