As predicted, the president’s doomed bid to renew the ban on military-style assault weapons has won the backing of the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday despite a bitter and lively exchange between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
The vote was along party lines and almost certain to fail with a full Senate vote soon. It appears that Democrats cringe at such votes when it is likely to hurt their chances for re-election. The strong rhetoric turns to mush when their asses are on the line.
Principle is the last word on any Senator’s mind when it comes to survival.
The vote was 10-8 with the Democratic-led panel approving the controversial law for renewal similar to the last one that expired in 2004. This new version would limit ammunition clips to ten bullets.
Presumably, this will stop maniacs bent on massacring innocent school children, politicians or the general public. It should be noted that a military-style weapon (among others in his arsenal) was the weapon of choice for the young man who murdered scores of school children, teachers and administrators at Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six adults on Dec. 14.
Although most polls show Americans in favor of the ban, the powerful National Rifle Association lobbying efforts make it risky for any senator to vote “yes” in a full Senate vote.
There is no doubt that the majority of Senate Republicans and a substantial number of Democrats from rural states will oppose the new law. Their familiar argument centers on the sacred constitutional right to bear arms.
No doubt voting “yes” would cost many senators their opportunity for re-election. A third of the body will be up for their seats in 2014.
President Obama, pleased with the 10-8 meaningless vote in the Senate, thanked the lawmakers by saying, the weapons "are designed for the battlefield and have no place on our streets, in our schools or threatening our law enforcement officers."
A statement highly contested by those who oppose the ban.
For instance, Assistant Senate Minority Leader John Cornyn of Texas, who was one of eight Senators to oppose the weapons ban in the Judiciary Committee, said, "This is a flawed piece of legislation that jeopardizes the self-defense and constitutional rights of law-abiding Texans, while doing nothing to address the tragic problem of gun violence."
His thoughts were reverberated throughout the day by others who oppose the ban.
The ban (bill) was originally authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, no stranger to violence as the former Mayor of San Francisco who replaced the late Mayor George Alioto when he and SF Supervisor Harvey Milk were shot and killed in November, 1978.
The ban would include the sale, import and manufacture of 157 specific types of military-style, semi-automatic assault weapons. It would exempt 2,258 types of rifles and shotguns that are considered "legitimate hunting and sporting" firearms.
The law itself would take immediate effect if passed.
The argument by most Democratic opponents centers on the idea of "Do they need a bazooka?. I don't think so," Feinstein famously argued.
But the argument from the conservatives contends that this ban will lead to more and more bans on American’s rights to bear arms. Much like Mayor Bloomberg of New York attempting to limit the size of sodas, he was defeated in court only to come back with another law banning exposure of cigarettes in public in any retail outlet.
Where do such laws end and when was the last time a temporary tax was removed from the books?
Most senators are certain to face fierce opposition in lobbying efforts from gun-rights groups (mainly the NRA) and their nemesis, those who favor tougher gun laws, including everyone from parents to the Church.
Democrats control the Senate 55-45. Their problem is they need 60 votes to make the gun ban law. "I don't think the bill will get more than 50 votes," Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, told Reuters.
The assault weapons ban bill would be the fourth gun law passed by the Judiciary Committee in two weeks. As can be widely assumed would be the case, it was by party line.
One of the measures passed has an excellent chance of passage. That would be the tightened background checks on gun buyers making it a federal crime to buy a gun on behalf of someone prohibited from owning or possessing such a weapon.
That bill is earmarked to provide $40 million a year in federal matching funds for each of the next 10 years to improve school security. It is widely assumed it will pass.
Only one other measure of the scores sent to the Senate by President Obama is expected to pass easily: The Senate will send a measure to the Republican-led House of Representatives for consideration of a law adding extra school security.
That, along with background checks, will surely pass with a compromise of the two bill’s language.
It appears Congress can actually agree on something. Maybe they have been looking at their recent poll numbers that rank lower than used car salesmen.
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