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Kamala Harris would ban AR-15 style assault weapons imports

Kamala Harris
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris speaks at the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority South Central Regional Conference in New Orleans on April 19, 2019 AP

California Sen. Kamala Harris will announce at a campaign stop Wednesday that she would use executive action to ban imports of AR-15 style assault weapons if elected president, a senior campaign official tells CBS News.

The Democratic presidential hopeful is scheduled to speak at a Girls, Inc. of New Hampshire town hall in Nashua Wednesday morning.

The Harris campaign has pointed out that assault weapons made abroad have been used in mass shootings such as the one in Las Vegas in 2017, the Dallas police shooting in 2016 and the Pulse nightclub shooting that year.

The National Rifle Association has accused Harris of using a "failed 2008 and 2016 presidential candidate's gun control playbook."

Harris previously announced four other executive actions she would to take if Congress failed to pass gun reform in her first 100 days in office. They include near-universal background checks and revoking the licenses of gun makers and dealers that break the law. 

The Firearm Industry Trade Association says, "AR-15-style rifles can look like military rifles, such as the M-16, but by law they function like other semiautomatic civilian sporting firearms, as they fire only one round with each pull of the trigger."

There are roughly 15-20 million assault weapons in circulation in the U.S., and more than 4 million of them were imported, the Harris campaign says.

In addition to banning AR-15-style assault weapon imports, Harris would suspend all other assault weapon imports until the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) conducts a study of whether those imports should be permanently stopped under existing law, such as the 1968 Gun Control Act and firearms bans put in place by the George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations.

Harris is a backer of the assault weapons ban fellow California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced in January. That bill would make it a crime to sell, import, export, transfer or own a semi-automatic assault weapon or large capacity ammunition feeding device, with some exceptions.

Other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who support Feinstein's bill include Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. 

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