Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein is once again backing legislation that would ban so-called assault weapons. 

As in previous attempts to revive the original assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, Feinstein says her intent is to save lives by keeping weapons whose sole purpose is to “kill as many people as possible in as short an amount of time as possible” off the streets.

Reason’s Jacob Sullum writes the proposed bill is as incoherent as previous attempts to ban weapons:

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2021…would prohibit the manufacture and sale of numerous arbitrarily defined firearms, including some of the most popular rifles sold in the United States. It lists “205 military-style assault weapons” by name and also covers other guns with features Feinstein does not like. It would ban any semiautomatic rifle that accepts a detachable magazine and has “a pistol grip,” “a forward grip,” a folding or telescoping stock, “a grenade launcher,” “a barrel shroud,” or “a threaded barrel.”

In contrast with the 1994 definition, which required two or more “military-style” features, Feinstein’s new proposal, like the bills she has been sponsoring since 2013, says one is enough to make a rifle intolerable. Feinstein also continues to fiddle with her list of prohibited features. She no longer thinks we need to worry about bayonet mounts, but she is now sounding the alarm about the ominous barrel shroud, a covering that protects the shooter’s hand from the heat generated by firing a rifle. And while her 2013 list included “a rocket launcher,” that has since been excised, although “grenade launcher” is still there.

Crimes committed with rifle-mounted grenade launchers are about as common in the United States as crimes committed with rifle-mounted bayonets. Even if someone decided to attach a grenade launcher to his rifle, he would have a hard time finding something to launch with it, since grenades are strictly regulated as “destructive devices” under federal law. The rest of the targeted features likewise do not make a gun especially lethal: They have nothing to do with rate of fire, ammunition size, muzzle velocity, or muzzle energy.

The legislation is likely to generate considerable heat, but very little light. It’s also unclear whether all Senate Democrats are willing to back it – missing among the bill’s Democratic co-sponsors are West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Krysten Sinema.

Image Credit: By Cory Doctorow (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons