Not everyone is exempted from owning military-style assault weapons under new legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Weapons used by government officials and law enforcement will not be prohibited by the law proposed by the California Democrat, which would prohibit the sale, manufacture and importation of 158 specifically named semi-automatic weapons and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Any weapons legally owned before the bill’s enactment would also be exempt, although those firearms would have to be registered in a national database.
In addition, more than 2,200 types of hunting and sporting rifles and manually operated firearms would also be exempt.
The ambitious measure seeks to reinstate and expand the federal ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004. While gun control restrictions -- typically extremely unpopular -- have floundered in Congress in recent years, there has been a renewed push for tighter regulations in the wake of last month’s elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
But gun rights activists, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), have vowed to oppose any legislative action that could increase regulations on firearm ownership, claiming it is an undeniable violation of the Second Amendment.
"Senator Feinstein has been trying to ban guns from law-abiding citizens for decades," the gun lobby said in a statement. "The American people know gun bans do not work, and we are confident Congress will reject Senator Feinstein's wrong-headed approach."
Some tea-party affiliated conservatives have alleged the Obama administration is attempting to strip citizens of their weapons in a move that has constantly been compared to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi takeover of Germany. Pro-gun extremists, such as NRA board member Ted Nugent, have recently stated that any additional gun laws are the first step toward all-out confiscation, an event the conservative blogosphere argues could potentially lead to the rise of a totalitarian state. The exemption of government officials and law enforcement from the Feinstein bill may encourage that line of thinking.
Nugent, for his part, recently told the conservative World Net Daily that gun owners should model their resistance on the 1960s civil rights movement.
“There will come a time when the gun owners of America, the law-abiding gun owners of America, will be the Rosa Parks, and we will sit down on the front seat of the bus, case closed,” Nugent said, comparing gun owners to the civil rights hero.
Ashley covers U.S. politics for the International Business Times, with a focus on civil liberties, women's issues and campaign finance. Her work has also appeared in The...