The House Judiciary Committee called yesterday for a ban on sale of U.S.-made semiautomatic assault weapons for which there is no valid sporting purpose.
"It makes no sense for the police of this country to be outgunned by criminals or for our citizens to live in fear of criminals . . . armed with assault rifles," Rep. William J. Hughes (D-N.J.) said.
The committee voted 21 to 15 in favor of a bill that includes the ban while Senate sponsors searched for a way to salvage an omnibus crime bill containing other curbs on assault weapons. Senate floor action was halted last week after two failed attempts to cut short a filibuster.
The House bill would pave the way for the administration to ban sale of domestically produced weapons when there was no sporting purpose, much as it barred importation of 43 foreign models for the same reason last year.
Companies now making the weapons could still produce them for the military and persons who now own them would be able to keep them under the bill.
The bill would also double from five years to 10 the mandatory minimum penalty for using or carrying an assault weapon in a violent crime or drug crime.