If the bill forthcoming from Senate Democrats is any indication, it appears there’s little appetiate in Congress to decide what constitutes an “assault weapon” and ban it. From the Washington Post:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chief sponsor of the [assault weapons] ban, said Tuesday that her proposal won’t be included as part of a bill encompassing several proposals that the Senate Judiciary Committee approved last week and that the Senate is expected to begin debating when it returns from a two-week recess in early April.
In addition to the assault weapons ban, the Judiciary Committee approved a bipartisan proposal to make gun trafficking a federal crime; a bipartisan bill to expand a Justice Department grant program that provides funding for school security; and a Democratic proposal to expand the nation’s gun background check program.
Instead of including the assault weapons ban in the final bill, Feinstein said Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has told her she can introduce it as an amendment to the full bill — fulfilling his promise to hold an up-or-down vote on the measure. A separate vote will be held on an amendment to limit the size of ammunition clips, she said.
“Obviously I was disappointed” when she heard the news, she told reporters Tuesday.
All along, Reid was considered a Democrat who would be reluctant to go along with a new ban on particular weapons. Feinstein can — and did — blame the National Rifle Association for the ban’s apparent demise (I say only “apparent,” because it ain’t over till it’s over). But the NRA, like any advocacy group, is only as strong as the voters who belong to it. And Reid, like other Democratic senators from red and reddish states, knows a lot of his voters belong to the NRA.
Speaking of which, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre was one of the speakers at CPAC, and here’s some of what he had to say about some of the other possible elements in the Senate Democrats’ bill:
On the other hand, LaPierre did continue to voice support for training and arming security guards at schools — though he noted not everyone in the federal government feels the same way. He showed a clip from a video, which he said came from the Department of Homeland Security, in which a person whose workplace is under attack by a gunman is advised to hide beneath a desk and defend himself or herself with a pair of scissors.
“Let’s get this straight,” he said. “To protect our children at school, we recommend a trained professional with a gun; they recommend scissors. And they say we’re crazy? It’s sheer madness.”
– By Kyle Wingfield