(Senate - January 09, 2019)

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[Pages S103-S105]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


      By Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. 
        Schumer, Mr. Durbin, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Reed, Mr. Carper, Mr. 
        Menendez, Mr. Cardin, Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Whitehouse, Mrs. 
        Gillibrand, Mr. Schatz, Ms. Hirono, Ms. Warren, Mr. Markey, Mr. 
        Booker, Mr. Van Hollen, Ms. Duckworth, Ms. Harris, Mr. Casey, 
        Mr. Sanders, Ms. Smith, Mr. Wyden, Ms. Hassan, Mrs. Shaheen, 
        Mr. Warner, and Mr. Merkley):
  S. 66. A bill to regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right 
to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes; to the 
Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today to reintroduce 
legislation that prohibits the sale, transfer, manufacture, and 
importation of assault weapons.

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  I will keep doing this every Congress. This legislation must 
constantly be before us until Republicans finally decide to join me in 
the effort to stop mass shootings. This legislation is not perfect. But 
it is part of the solution. We must start with reducing the supply of 
the weapons of war that are used to take the lives of our loved ones.
  These last years have seen some of the worst gun-violence tragedies 
in our Nation's history. For example, on October 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, 
Nevada, a gunman opened fire with multiple semi-automatic assault 
rifles that he had legally transformed into automatic weapons. He 
killed more than fifty people and left more than 500 wounded. Among the 
victims were mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters.
  There was Kelsey Meadows, 28 years old, who after graduating from the 
University of California, Fresno, returned to her hometown of Taft, 
California to be a substitute teacher at her alma mater, Taft Union 
High School. She was described by the high school principal as ``smart, 
compassionate, and kind'' with a ``sweet spirit and a love for 
children.'' Her entire family and community were completely devastated. 
Kelsey could have been any of us, attending that concert.
  My own daughter told me after the Las Vegas shooting that she was 
supposed to be in the city that evening, but her plans had to change. 
It was only a little more than a year before the Las Vegas shooting 
that we experienced what had then been the worst mass shooting in our 
nation's history. That was when 49 people, who were enjoying an evening 
of dancing with friends and loved ones, were massacred in Orlando, 
Florida. Victims in Orlando included 22-year old Luis Velma, who was 
working at Universal Studios on a Harry Potter ride.
  There was also Eddie Justice, a 30-year old accountant who texted his 
mother from the shooting, telling her: ``Mommy I love you.'' ``In club 
they shooting.'' ``He has us.'' I encourage every member of this 
chamber to imagine receiving those text messages from their son or 
  And just six months before that, 14 people were killed and more than 
20 were injured in San Bernardino, California at a work holiday party. 
Among the victims was a father of six. A mother of three. A woman who 
was eight when she and her mother left Vietnam for a better life in 
America. The youngest victim was 26, and the oldest was 60.
  And we should never forget that on December 14, 2012, 20 children had 
their lives taken at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Children. This issue 
could not be more important for our children's future.
  This past year we saw young men and women begin an incredible 
movement after the shooting that took place on February 14, 2018, at 
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They are 
setting an example for all of us. Tens of thousands of students 
nationwide have taken to the streets to demand action to stop mass 
shootings and stem the epidemic of gun violence that plagues our 
communities. Our youngest generation has grown up hiding under their 
desks, and they have said, ``enough.''
  Following their example, I encourage every member of this body to 
imagine dropping their young child off at school this morning, only to 
learn a few hours later that a gunman walked into that school and tried 
to kill as many people as possible. That is something we can prevent.
  The deadly assault weapons used by the attackers in each of the 
devastating shootings I have mentioned would have been banned under the 
Assault Weapons Ban bill that I am introducing today. This bill helps 
keep us safer, while also protecting the rights of lawful gun owners.
  It prohibits semi-automatic rifles, handguns, and shotguns that can 
accept a detachable magazine and have one military characteristic. This 
is the standard employed in my home state of California--and it works. 
The bill also prohibits bump-fire stocks, which, as we saw in Las 
Vegas, allow people to convert semi-automatic rifles to function like 
machine guns.
  Importantly, our legislation further prohibits large-capacity 
ammunition feeding devices capable of accepting more than ten rounds. 
It also has several technical updates to the bill that was introduced 
last Congress. Specifically, it bans stocks that are otherwise foldable 
or adjustable in a manner that operates to reduce the length, size, or 
any other dimension, or otherwise enhances the concealability of a 
weapon. Additionally, it prohibits assault pistols that weigh 50 ounces 
or more when unloaded, a provision which was originally part of the 
1994 ban.
  Finally, it bans assault pistol stabilizing braces and Thordsen-type 
grips and stocks that are designed to evade assault weapons bans. Now, 
let me tell you what the bill will not do.
  It will not affect hunting or sporting firearms. Instead, the bill 
protects hunters and sportsmen by specifically exempting 2,258 firearms 
used for hunting or sporting purposes. It also exempts antique, 
manually-operated, and permanently disabled weapons. Moreover, the bill 
protects the rights of existing gun owners by grandfathering weapons 
legally possessed on the date of enactment.
  Opponents believe that this legislation impinges upon Second 
Amendment rights. I disagree. The Supreme Court expressly held in 
District of Columbia v. Heller that ``the right secured by the Second 
Amendment is not unlimited.'' The Court made clear that reasonable 
regulations are constitutional. This bill simply establishes reasonable 
regulations on what types of weapons may be sold and used. Individuals 
should not own nuclear weapons, they should not own rocket launchers, 
and they should not own military-style assault weapons.
  In fact, a number of courts have considered challenges to assault 
weapons bans. To date, every court that has considered a ban on assault 
weapons or large-capacity magazines has upheld the law. Mr. President, 
I believe very strongly that the most important duty that government 
has to its citizens is to protect the nation and the safety of its 
people. Now, I am under no illusions. I know that the gun lobby has a 
stranglehold on this building. I know we got 40 votes in 2013, and I 
know Republicans control the Senate today.
  But I also know this was hard-fought in 1994, and we prevailed--with 
Republican support. It was a bipartisan vote.
  I still believe that, at some point, my Republican colleagues will 
come together and realize that we can be a nation that protects its 
people from the savagery of these weapons.
  I thank the chair, and I yield the floor.
      By Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself and Ms. Harris):
  S. 67. A bill to provide for conservation, enhanced recreation 
opportunities, and development of renewable energy in the California 
Desert Conservation Area, and for other purposes; to the Committee on 
Energy and Natural Resources.
  Ms. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, today I am proud to introduce the 
``California Desert Protection and Recreation Act of 2019.''
  This bill represents a decade-long collaborative effort between 
conservationists, the off-road vehicle recreational community, State 
and local governments, small businesses, and public utilities. Through 
this collaborative effort, we have developed a path forward to 
sustainably and comprehensively manage California's fragile desert 
  Before I continue, I would especially like to thank Senators Lisa 
Murkowski and Maria Cantwell, as well as their staff, for all of their 
hard work to move this bill forward last Congress. With their 
assistance, this legislation passed out of the Senate Energy and 
Natural Resources Committee in October 2018 and was included in a 
bipartisan public lands package.
  Despite the disappointing outcome of last Congress, we have come 
farther with this bill than ever before, and I look forward to working 
once again with Senator Murkowski, as well as the newly designated 
Ranking Member Joe Manchin, to maintain our momentum and pass this bill 
as quickly as possible.
  I also would like to express my gratitude to Representative Paul Cook 
and his staff for their tremendous work and collaboration on this 
legislation over the past two years.
  The California desert is as special as it is unique. Unlike many 
deserts in the world, our desert is abundant with plant and animal 
species, many of

[[Page S105]]

which are only found in California. From the iconic Joshua Trees to the 
desert tortoise, big horn sheep, and scores of wildflowers, the beauty 
of the California desert is unrivaled.
  I have heard from thousands of constituents who share a love for the 
peace and tranquility of this majestic area, such as young students 
from urban areas exposed to the desert for the first time and veterans 
returning home from warzones finding much-needed quiet in California's 
desert landscapes.
  When I first came to Washington twenty-six years ago, Senator Alan 
Cranston asked me to assume the mantle and carry on his efforts to 
protect the desert by introducing and passing a desert protection bill.
  Despite opposition, and even filibuster attempts, the California 
Desert Protection Act of 1994 passed and was signed into law by 
President Clinton. Since then, we have all watched the unique desert 
plants, animals, and surrounding communities flourish, attracting 
visitors from around the world.
  The 1994 bill permanently protected more than 7.5 million acres of 
pristine desert land in national parks and preserves, and I worked 
closely with President Obama in 2016 to designate three new desert 
National monuments that protected a further 1.8 million acres.
  The original Desert Protection Act was a crowning achievement for 
desert conservation, establishing 69 new Wilderness areas, creating the 
Mojave National Preserve, and converting Death Valley and Joshua Tree 
National Monuments into National Parks. All told, we were able to 
protect, or increase protections for about 9.6 million acres.
  I am proud to have been a part of these achievements for the desert, 
and I remain steadfast in my commitment to get this legislation across 
the finish line.
  As I mentioned earlier, this bill represents the varied interests of 
desert stakeholders and balances the many uses of the California 
desert. I'll highlight some of what's in the bill now.
  The bill designates approximately 375,500 acres of wilderness, 
including eight new Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wilderness areas.
  It expands Death Valley National Park Wilderness by approximately 
88,000 acres and adds 7,141 acres to the San Gorgonio Wilderness within 
San Bernardino National Forest.
  This bill also expands Joshua Tree National Park by 4,518 acres and 
Death Valley National Park by approximately 35,292 acres. The additions 
to Joshua Tree National Park include 1,600 acres donated by the Mojave 
Desert Land Trust.
  The legislation also officially designates six existing Off-Highway 
Vehicle Recreation Areas totaling 200,580 acres to provide certainty 
that these recreational uses will be protected and maintained in a 
manner similar to conservation areas.
  Two more additions are the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area in Inyo 
County and the Vinagre Wash Special Management Area in Imperial County. 
The Alabama Hills National Scenic Area preserves 18,610 acres for 
continued recreation and conservation. The Vinagre Wash Special 
Management Area covers approximately 81,800 acres of Bureau of Land 
Management land to provide for wilderness preservation, vehicular use 
on designated routes, and limitations on extractive uses of the land 
within the management area.
  Lastly, this bill designates 77 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers.
  Desert conservation has never been a partisan issue. Over the years, 
legislators have come together across party lines to preserve and 
protect California's desert.
  Considering our progress and bipartisan efforts last Congress, I am 
hopeful this Congress will take this legislation up and move it forward 
as quickly as possible.
  This bill represents years of collaborative work and the interests of 
a wide variety of groups and communities with the shared goal of 
protecting and sustainably managing California's desert. This area is a 
true national treasure, and I look forward to continuing our work to 
protect it for generations to come.
  Thank you.