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January 26, 2015

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Sen. Harry Reid nixes proposed ban on assault weapons


J. Scott Applewhite / AP

In this Feb. 25, 2013 file photo, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Feinstein, the sponsor of a proposed assault weapons ban, says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has told her that the ban will not be part of the initial gun control measure the Senate will debate next month.

Updated Tuesday, March 19, 2013 | 12:36 p.m.

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has decided that a proposed assault weapons ban won't be part of a gun control bill the Senate plans to debate next month, the sponsor of the ban said Tuesday, a decision that means the ban stands little chance of survival.

Instead, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she will be able to offer her ban on the military-style firearms as an amendment. Feinstein is all but certain to need 60 votes from the 100-member Senate to prevail, but she faces solid Republican opposition and likely defections from some moderate Democrats.

"I very much regret it," Feinstein, D-Calif., told reporters of Reid's decision. "I tried my best."

Asked about the decision, Reid, D-Nev., said he wanted to bring a gun bill to the full Senate that would have enough support to overcome any GOP attempts to prevent debate from even starting.

He said that "using the most optimistic numbers," there were less than 40 votes for Feinstein's ban. That is far less than the 60 votes needed to begin considering legislation, and an indication that Reid feared that including the assault weapons ban in the main guns bill would risk getting the votes needed to begin debate.

"I'm not going to try to put something on the floor that won't succeed. I want something that will succeed. I think the worst of all worlds would be to bring to something to the floor and it dies there," Reid said.

Feinstein, an author of the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired after a decade, said that Reid told her of the decision on Monday.

There are 53 Democrats in the Senate, plus two independents who usually vote with them.

An assault-type weapon was used in the December massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that revived gun control as a top issue in Washington. Banning those firearms was among the proposals President Barack Obama made in January in response to those slayings.

The assault weapons ban was the most controversial of the major proposals to restrict guns that have been advanced by Obama and Senate Democrats. Because of that, it had been expected that the assault weapons measure would be left out of the initial package the Senate considers, with Democrats hoping the Senate could therefore amass the strongest possible vote for the overall legislation.

Having a separate vote on assault weapons might free moderate Democratic senators facing re-election next year in Republican-leaning states to vote against the assault weapons measure, but then support the remaining overall package of gun curbs.

Gun control supporters consider a strong Senate vote important because the Republican-run House has shown little enthusiasm for most of Obama's proposals.

Feinstein said Reid told her there will be two votes.

One would be on her assault weapons ban, which also includes a ban on ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The second would just be on prohibiting the high-capacity magazine clips.

Many Democrats think the ban on large-capacity magazines has a better chance of getting 60 votes than the assault weapons ban.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved four gun control measures this month, including Feinstein's barring assault weapons and high capacity magazines. The others would expand required federal background checks for firearms buyers, increase federal penalties for illegal gun trafficking and boost school safety money.

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  1. except those "Chinese Jeeps" will only be available for purchase in...... wait for it...... wait for it..... China.

  2. It looks like Harry Reid is certainly afraid of the backlash from the Nevada Voters he represents, here, in Las Vegas (and rightly so).

    But it also seems that he is afraid that open and honest debate about gun control on a national level will somehow hurt his party - and it will. IMHO, anyone who thinks that Feinstein's ban will somehow lower the body count when the next nut-case shoots defenseless people in a "gun-free-zone" is lost in a total fantasy. As long as any kind of firearms exist, criminals will find a way to obtain them; the government be damned.

  3. Feinstein's proposed law is intended to ban specific semi-automatic rifles and clip sizes - not assault rifles which are fully automatic devices. It's plain to see how this new ban would never help reduce mass killings - Under the proposed ban I'd still be "allowed" to keep my semi-automatic side-arm and any existing clips in my possession. My pistol holds seventeen in the clip and one in the chamber. I've eight of these clips on a belt. I can easily empty a clip and reload with a new clip in 8 to 10 seconds. If I am starting with a full clip w/one in the chamber, I can off 137 rounds in 61 to 75 seconds. How is the resultant amount of lead downrange so different from any other semi-automatic rifle? It's not. And I can certainly carry more that 8 clips if I wanted to do so.

    Also, a semi-automatic side-arm is much easy to CCW (hides under a shirt or coat) and allows anyone to easily walk undetected into any gun-free zone that is not protected by a metal detector (school, movie house, college). Can't say that about an AR-15 or any other semi-automatic rifle.

  4. To correct a misconception above, Reid isn't afraid of Nevada voters, but at least 41 members of the Senate love murderers more than they love life.

  5. @ Michael Green - there is no misconception in my words or statements at all. The only appalling and misconstrued statement I see above is that someone actually wrote "members of the Senate love murderers more than they love life."

  6. President Obama and Senator Reid are betting on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty that Secretary of State John Kerry has already endorsed. The United Nations began working on the stalled treaty again on March 18, 2013.

    The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty will provide Mr Obama and Senator Reid political cover to do the dirty work in place of unpopular legislation that will not pass in the current Senate.

  7. Repub politicians & their '2nd amendment fervor'...

    Nuttin' but contrived, phony outrage.

    They could care LESS, except that it is offensive to their base; Bubba, Jim Bob, Billi Jo & Bobbie Sue, who firmly believe that our President is a 'Kenyan/Commie/Socialist/Muslim' who will soon personally appear at their trailer door to ask for their gun cache.

  8. @ gmag39 - my outrage is not phony and not contrived. The phony, contrived, non-nonsensical push for "feel-good" laws that do nothing to stop or prevent crime is the real subject here.

    And, no rational person thinks our President is a 'Kenyan/Commie/Socialist/Muslim' who will soon personally appear at their trailer door to ask for their gun cache. - spare us the rhetoric, please.