Senate panel hearing from Newtown father, doctor

Alan Fram and Philip Elliott, Associated Press
Senate panel hearing from Newtown father, doctor

FILE - In a Jan. 28, 2013 file photo Neil Heslin, holds a picture of himself with his son Jesse and wipes his eye before testifying at a hearing in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn., Heslin will testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday Feb. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein says there has never been a greater need for a federal ban on assault weapons.

The California Democrat made the remark as the Senate Judiciary Committee began a hearing on her legislation that would ban those firearms, as well as ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 rounds.

Feinstein says assault weapons are deadlier than they were two decades ago, when she helped enact a ban on those weapons. That prohibition expired in 2004.

The top Republican on the panel, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, challenged the need for the ban. He said the government has done a poor job of enforcing current gun laws, and says the prohibition would take away firearms that people use for self-defense.