Assault Weapons Ban Is Gun Debate's First Casualty

Mar 19, 2013
Originally published on March 19, 2013 4:48 pm

The prospects of an assault weapons ban emerging as part of any post-Newtown gun control law looks highly unlikely after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opted not to include it in a Democratic proposal to be offered on the Senate floor in coming weeks.

"My understanding is it will not be [part of the base bill]" to be introduced on the Senate floor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said after meeting with Reid on Monday, according to Politico. "The leader has decided not to do it."

Feinstein's bill, which would ban more than 150 specific assault-style weapons, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week on 10-8 party-line vote. It can still be offered as an amendment to the measure that will reach the Senate floor. But that could be an even tougher road to passage.

Feinstein authored the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired 10 years later when Congress failed to reauthorize it. Her bill is among several measures introduced in the new Congress in response to the Dec. 14 shooting deaths of 20 children and six educators at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, has been reluctant to back gun control measures in the past. Politico reports:

"Reid's decision highlights the tightrope walked by the majority leader in governing the gun control issue. Trapped between the White House and rank-and-file Democrats who support broad gun control legislation following the shootings last December in Newtown, Conn., Reid must also be mindful of red-state Democrats up for reelection in 2014 who favor gun rights."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.