In their latest attempt to crack down on assault weapons, Congress issued a ban which would protect more than 2,200 specific types of guns, including a semi-automatic rifle that is nearly identical to one of the guns used in the worst shootout in FBI history.
One model of that specific gun, the Ruger .223 caliber Mini-14, is on the proposed ban list, while a different model of the same gun is on the list of exempted firearms in legislation that the Senate is currently considering. The gun that would be protected has fixed physical features and cannot be folded to become compact. Yet both of the firearms are equally deadly.
"What a joke," said former FBI agent John Hanlon, who survived the 1986 shootout in Miami. He was shot in the head, hand, groin and hip with a Ruger Mini-14 that had a folding stock. Two FBI agents died and five others were wounded.
Hanlon recalled lying on the street as brass bullet casings showered on him. He thought the shooter had an automatic weapon.
Both models of the Ruger Mini-14 specified in the bill can take detachable magazines that hold dozens of rounds of ammunition. "I can't imagine what the difference is," Hanlon said.
President Barack Obama recently called for Congress to restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and limit the size of ammunition magazines.
The bill introduced last month by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, looks to ban 157 specific firearms designed specifically for military and law enforcement use. It also looks to exempt others made for hunting purposes and to ban ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
Yet there are firearms that would be protected under Feinstein's proposal that can take large capacity magazines, exactly like the ones used in mass shootings, which enable users to fire dozens of rounds of ammunition without stopping to reload.
The December shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 students and educators dead forced politicians to focus on curbing gun violence, a move not tried by Washington in decades.
The gun industry, which is fighting all bans, says that gun ownership in the U.S. is the highest it has ever been, with more than 100 million current and legal firearms owners.
Some gun experts say, however, that the list of banned and exempted firearms shows an obvious lack of understanding and knowledge when it comes to guns.
"There's no logic to it," said Greg Danas, president of a Massachusetts-based expert witness business and firearms ballistic laboratory. "What kind of effect is it going to have?"
Feinstein's bill defines an assault weapon as a semi-automatic firearm with a detachable magazine that has one of several military characteristics that are specified in her legislation. Examples of those characteristics include a pistol grip, which makes a firearm easier to hold, and a forward grip, which makes the firearm easier to stabilize to improve accuracy.
Any firearm that does not fall within the law's definition of an assault weapon would not be banned. As a result, the list gives politicians wiggle room with constituents who do not agree with banning any firearms.
For example, a politician could now look at the list and assure their constituents that the government will not ban the firearm he or she loves to use for deer hunting. Under both the 1994 law and the currently proposed one, the government could not ban guns that people already legally own. The ban would only apply to specific firearms that are manufactured and sold after the law is in effect.