Monthly Archives: February 2018

The two assault weapons bans before Congress are co-sponsored by 195 Democrats and 0 Republicans

By Christopher Ingraham

A Rock River Arms AR-15 rifle (Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

This week Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) introduced an assault weapons ban in the U.S. House. The bill boasts a mass of co-sponsors: 167 so far, not counting Cicilline himself.

Cicilline’s bill joins a similar piece of legislation introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last year. Feinstein’s bill has 26 co-sponsors ( counts 27, but one of those is former Minnesota Democratic senator Al Franken, who resigned earlier this year), including three Democrats who have signed on since the school shooting this month in Parkland, Fla.

Both measures would ban sales of semiautomatic rifles with certain military-style features, such as pistol grips and flash suppressors. The measures would also outlaw the sale of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Neither bill would require current gun owners to give up any of their weapons.

All told, the two assault weapons bans before Congress are sponsored or co-sponsored by 195 lawmakers. But none of those lawmakers is Republican. Despite a recent shift in the national conversation around mass shootings, and tentative signals of support for an assault weapons ban from several Republican lawmakers, no GOP lawmakers have yet offered a full-throated endorsement of a specific piece of legislation on assault weapons.

Many Democrats have only just recently embraced these proposals. The Cicilline bill introduced this week has the highest number of co-sponsors of any assault weapons ban legislation introduced since Congress let the previous ban lapse in 2004. The 167 co-sponsors are more than double the number of House Democrats who signed on to a similar measure in 2013, after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which led to the deaths of 20 children and six educators.

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Study: Food stamp benefits are already too low in 99 percent of U.S. counties

By Caitlin Dewey

The Trump administration recently proposed massive, across-the-board cuts to food stamps. But even without those cuts, a new analysis finds, current benefit amounts don’t cover the full cost of meals for the vast majority of recipients.

The report, released this week by researchers at the Urban Institute and the University of Illinois, compared the maximum, per-meal benefit allowed by the food-stamp program with the average cost of meals purchased by low-income households in the United States. The researchers found that in 99 percent of counties those meals regularly cost more than even the maximum benefit disbursed by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

[‘Blue Apron for food stamps’ already exists. And some recipients hate the powdered milk.]

In Manhattan, for instance — home to nearly a quarter-million food-stamp recipients — SNAP allows $1.86 per meal, while the average meal costs $3.96.

The reports add to a growing body of evidence that SNAP benefits may already be too small to fully prevent hunger and related health risks. In light of the Trump administration’s calls to reduce spending in the program, advocates are pointing to studies like this to argue that the program cannot take further reductions.

“Benefits are already not meeting needs,” said Elaine Waxman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and the lead author of this report. “I can’t expect less funding would improve that situation.”

The maximum food stamp benefit only covers the average cost of a meal in 22 U.S. counties, colored yellow. The darker the shade of blue, the larger the gap between the maximum benefit and an average meal. (The Urban Institute)

Waxman and others say the issue appears to be twofold: Benefit amounts are stingy, to begin with. They’re also …read more

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