Assault-weapons ban: What happened to 12 bills to reinstate it

The assault-weapons ban expired in 2004, and a dozen attempts to renew or reinstate it failed.

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  1. In 1994, President Clinton signed a law barring the manufacture of certain semi-automatic rifles. The so-called assault-weapons ban expired in 2004, however, and was not renewed. 
  2. Below is a list of the 12 bills that would have reinstated the federal assault-weapons ban. Most of the sponsors and cosponsors are Democrats. A number of the high-profile supporters ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in either 2004 or 2008, but Democratic leaders in Congress mostly kept their distance from the proposals.
  3. The bills begin with a flurry of activity in 2003 just before the ban was due to expire and again in 2004 just after it expired. When they became stuck in committee, sponsors tried some tricky legislative maneuvers to put them up for a vote by the entire chamber, but those failed. Each later attempt had fewer and fewer cosponsors. 
  4. No bill to reinstate the assault-weapons ban has been filed since 2008.
  5. 2003: S. 1034

  6. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., talks to reporters in 2012. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
  7. Primary sponsor: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
  8. Co-sponsors: 14, including Sens. John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, but not Democratic Leader Tom Daschle
  9. What it would have done: Made the assault weapons ban permanent.
  10. What happened: It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it died.
  11. 2003: S. 1431

  12. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., speaks at a hearing in 2012. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
  13. Primary sponsor: Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
  14. Co-sponsors: 14, many of the same as S. 1034 but also Sens. Daniel Akaka and Jon Corzine
  15. What it would have done: Made the assault-weapons ban permanent and added other restrictions.
  16. What happened: It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it died.
  17. 2003: H.R. 2038

  18. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference on gun control in 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
  19. Primary sponsor: Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.)
  20. What it would have done: Made the assault-weapons ban permanent and added other restrictions.
  21. What happened: It was referred to the a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, where no action was taken. A discharge petition, a rare legislative maneuver designed to bring a bill to the floor for a vote without passing through committee, was filed. It reached 72 signatures, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, but fell far short of the 218 it needed. 
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