Harry Reid says, "Thanks, but no thanks"
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) proposed assault weapons ban died yesterday, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cut it from a larger gun-control bill expected to hit the floor of the Senate next month. The ban on 157 types of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines can be introduced as a separate amendment, a process, as Politico notes, that faces "almost certain defeat."
Feinstein isn't too happy about it, as Los Angeles Times reporter Mike Memoli reports on Twitter:
Feinstein on the apparent dropping of assault weapons ban: "I very much regret it. I tried my best. But my best I guess wasn’t good enough."
— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) March 19, 2013
So why was it stripped before the bill even came up for a Senate vote? "Right now, her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes," Reid told USA Today. "I have to get something on the floor so we can have votes on that issue and the other issues."
Those other issues include a gun-trafficking bill that has garnered some Republican support, and the implementation of universal background checks. Passing those will be hard enough without a comprehensive assault weapons ban. Besides, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway, there are elections to think about:
Adding Feinstein’s bill to the mix would almost certainly mean its defeat in the Senate. Reid is smart enough to know this and he’s also smart enough to know that the red-state Democrats up for re-election in 2014 are not going to vote in favor of Feinstein’s bill. By forcing her to introduce it as an amendment rather than making it part of the core bill, he gives them an opportunity to vote against it without voting down the entire bill. [Outside the Beltway]
None of this is a surprise. As Daily Kos notes, "[F]rom the minute Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced it in January, even its most avid supporters knew a renewed assault weapons ban would have little chance of passing the Senate." The San Francisco Chronicle claims the "original ban was passed by a bare majority in 1994, only because it included a sunset date," which was in 2004.
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