Assault Weapons Ban of 2013

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Assault Weapons Ban of 2013
Great Seal of the United States
Full titleTo regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes.
AcronymAWB 2013
Introduced in113th United States Congress
Introduced onJanuary 24, 2013
Sponsored bySen. Dianne Feinstein (D, CA)
Number of co-sponsors20
Effects and codifications
Act(s) affectedAtomic Energy Act of 1954
Higher Education Act of 1965
Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968
U.S.C. section(s) affected18 U.S.C. § 922, 18 U.S.C. § 921, 18 U.S.C. § 924, 20 U.S.C. § 1070 et seq. 18 U.S.C. § 925A, and others.
Agencies affectedUnited States Department of Justice
United States Congress
Legislative history

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 (AWB 2013) was a bill introduced in the 113th United States Congress as S. 150 by Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, on January 24, 2013, one month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. It was defeated in the Senate on April 17, 2013 by a vote of 40 to 60.


Efforts to create a new federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB 1994) were renewed on December 14, 2012, when 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.[1] At the time, it was the deadliest shooting to occur at a primary or secondary school,[2] the second-deadliest mass shooting by a single person,[3] and one of the 25 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.[4]

Within hours of the shooting, a We the People user started a petition asking the White House to "immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress." That afternoon, President Barack Obama made a televised statement offering condolences on behalf of the nation to Connecticut governor, Dannel Malloy and saying, "we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."[5] Speaking at a December 16 memorial service in Newtown, Obama said he would "use whatever power this office holds" to prevent similar tragedies.[6] By December 17, the White House petition had more than 150,000 signatures,[7] and one week after the shooting it had almost 200,000, along with those on 30 similar petitions.[8]

On December 21, 2012, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), expressed the gun-rights group's sympathy for the families of Newtown. He said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," and that debating legislation that won't work would be a waste of time.[9]

Feinstein and Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, held a separate news conference in response to LaPierre's.[10] There, Feinstein said that the bill was a work in progress and that one idea was to register grandfathered assault weapons under the National Firearms Act (NFA) and another was a buy-back program.[11] A December 26, two-page bill summary on the senator's web site also mentioned registering grandfathered assault weapons under the NFA, but not a buy-back program.[12] (Neither proposal appeared in the text of the bill introduced to the Senate.)

On January 16, 2013, Obama announced a plan for reducing gun violence in four parts, one of which was banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.[13][14]:2 The plan included 23 executive orders, signed immediately by the president, and 12 proposals for Congress,[15] including reinstating and strengthening the ban on assault weapons that was in place from 1994 to 2004, and limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.[16]

The proposals were opposed by the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF),[17] and opposition was expected by legislators of both parties.[15][18]

Introduction of the bill, and debate[edit]

On January 24, 2013, Dianne Feinstein and 24 Democratic cosponsors introduced S. 150, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, into the U.S. Senate.[19][20] The bill was similar to the 1994 federal ban, but differed in that it used a one-feature test for a firearm to qualify as an assault weapon rather than the two-feature test of the 1994 ban.[21] Such a move would deter the average gun owner from wanting to purchase a neutered rifle.[22] In addition, it banned: the sale, transfer, importation or manufacture of about 150 named firearms; firearms with thumbhole stocks and bullet buttons; the importation of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines; and high-capacity ammunition magazines (defined as those capable of holding more than 10 rounds).[21] It would grandfather in weapons legally owned on the day of enactment and exempt more than 2,000 specific firearms "used for hunting or sporting purposes."[21]

On March 14, 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill, though it was expected not to clear the full Senate.[23] (Had the bill passed in the Senate, it was not expected to pass in the House of Representatives.)[24][25]


The NRA's reaction to the proposed bill was swift. Its Institute for Legislative Action division started a "Stop The Gun Ban" campaign before the legislation was introduced in the Senate, asking its members to call their representatives and urge them to oppose the ban.[26] Gun Owners of America (GOA) asked its members to do the same.[27] The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence issued a press release in support of the bill.[28]

Public opinion[edit]

A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted days after the shooting showed that public support for strengthening gun laws rose 15 percent compared to a similar poll in 2011. A law banning assault weapons was opposed by 51 percent of Americans, but one banning high-capacity magazines (defined by the poll as those capable of holding more than 10 rounds) was supported by 62 percent of Americans.[29][30]

Defeat of the bill and aftermath[edit]

In March 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to leave the proposed ban out of the broader gun control bill, saying that it was unlikely to win 40 votes in the 100-member chamber and that it would jeopardize more widely supported proposals.[31] On the morning of April 17, 2013, Feinstein displayed on the Senate floor a blow-up of a New York Daily News front page with photos of the 20 dead Sandy Hook Elementary School children and the headline, "Shame on U.S."[32][33] Before the vote, she said to her colleagues, "Show some guts." However, as expected,[34] S. 150, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, failed on a vote of 40 in favor to 60 in opposition. It was supported by Democrat Reid and Republican Senator Mark Kirk, but 15 Democrats, one independent, and all the Republicans except Kirk voted against the ban.[32]

After the vote, Feinstein said that Congress' failure to pass the law would lead a number of states passing their own assault weapons bans. She vowed to keep trying, and said "I believe the American people are far ahead of their elected officials on this issue."[32]

Criticisms of the bill[edit]

Critics of the bill said there were over 100 million "high-capacity magazines" (as defined by the bill) already in circulation in the United States. They also said that very few of these magazines were registered and a ban like this would be ineffective in keeping these magazines out of criminal hands.[35]


  1. ^ Barron, James (December 15, 2012). "Children Were All Shot Multiple Times With a Semiautomatic, Officials Say". New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2014.
  2. ^ Effron, Lauren (December 14, 2012). "Mass School Shootings: A History". ABC News. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  3. ^ Candiotti, Susan; Ford, Dana (December 16, 2012). "Connecticut school victims were shot multiple times". Cable News Network. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  4. ^ CNN Library (October 26, 2013). "25 Deadliest Mass Shootings in U.S. History Fast Facts". Cable News Network. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  5. ^ Barack Obama (December 14, 2012). President Obama Makes a Statement on the Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut (video). Washington, D.C.: Archived from the original on 2013-08-15. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  6. ^ Landler, Mark; Baker, Peter (December 16, 2012). "'These Tragedies Must End,' Obama Says". New York Times. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  7. ^ Wing, Nick (December 17, 2012). "White House Gun Control Petition Becomes Site's Most Popular Ever". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  8. ^ Levy, Gabrielle (December 21, 2012). "Obama responds to gun violence petition" (blog). United Press International. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  9. ^ LaPierre, Wayne (December 21, 2012). "Remarks from the NRA press conference on Sandy Hook school shooting, delivered on Dec. 21, 2012 (Transcript)". Washington Post. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  10. ^ Feinstein, Dianne and Richard Blumenthal (December 21, 2012). Senators Feinstein and Blumenthal React to NRA. Washington, D.C.: C-SPAN. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  11. ^ Feinstein, Dianne and Richard Blumenthal (December 21, 2012). Senators Feinstein and Blumenthal React to NRA. Washington, D.C.: C-SPAN. Event occurs at 12:16. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  12. ^ Author unknown (December 26, 2012). "Summary of 2013 Feinstein Assault Weapons Legislation" (PDF). Retrieved April 18, 2014.Two-page summary of bill points from four weeks before it was introduced to Senate. Unpublished.
  13. ^ "Now Is the Time". The White House. January 16, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  14. ^ "Now Is the Time: Gun Violence Reduction Executive Actions" (PDF). The White House. January 16, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  15. ^ a b MacAskill, Ewen; Pilkington, Ed (January 17, 2013). "NRA promises 'fight of the century' over Obama's bold gun control plan". Guardian. Guardian News and Media Ltd. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  16. ^ "What's in Obama's Gun Control Proposal". New York Times. January 16, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  17. ^ Horwitz, Sari (January 16, 2013). "NRA planning 'the fight of the century' against Obama". Washington Post. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  18. ^ Meckler, Laura; Nicholas, Peter; Nelson, Colleen McCain (January 16, 2013). "Obama's Gun Curbs Face a Slog in Congress". Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  19. ^ Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rev. Gary Hall, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy et al. (January 24, 2013). Assault Weapons Ban Bill (video). Washington, D.C.: National Cable Satellite Corporation. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  20. ^ Freedman, Dan (January 24, 2013). "Feinstein offers new assault weapons ban". Houston Chronicle. Hearst Newspapers. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  21. ^ a b c Kucinich, Jackie (January 24, 2013). "Democrats reintroduce assault weapons ban". USA Today. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  22. ^ Freedman, Dan. "Sen. Feinstein rolls out gun ban measure". Such a test ultimately would render these weapons less attractive to gun enthusiasts
  23. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (March 14, 2013). "Party-Line Vote in Senate Panel for Ban on Assault Weapons". New York Times. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  24. ^ "Senate committee approves assault weapons ban". Fox News Network. March 14, 2013.
  25. ^ Kucinich, Jackie (January 24, 2013). "Feinstein revives assault-weapons ban". USA Today.
  26. ^ "NRA-ILA:Stop The Gun Ban". NRA Institute for Legislative Action. January 2013. Archived from the original on April 15, 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  27. ^ "Obama Goes Nuts and Offers Anti-gunners Wish List". Gun Owners of America. January 18, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  28. ^ "Brady Campaign Statement on Senator Feinstein's Leadership to Save Lives". Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. January 24, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  29. ^ Madhani, Aamer (December 26, 2012). "Gun control poll shows mixed results". USA Today. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  30. ^ Saad, Lydia (December 27, 2012). "Americans Want Stricter Gun Laws, Still Oppose Bans". Gallup Inc. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  31. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (March 19, 2013). "Senator Is Angry Over Bill's Exclusion of Assault Gun Ban". New York Times.
  32. ^ a b c Simon, Richard (April 17, 2013). "Senate votes down Feinstein's assault weapons ban". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  33. ^ Warren, James (April 17, 2013). "Sen. Dianne Feinstein says Daily News 'SHAME ON U.S.' front page 'carries the message' of assault weapons ban". New York Daily News. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  34. ^ Fox, Lauren (April 17, 2013). "Why Expanding Gun Background Checks Will Likely Fail Today". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  35. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-08-04. Retrieved 2015-10-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Further reading[edit]