Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he plans to bring a bill to the Senate floor that will address gun violence after the Easter break, but that the assault weapons ban will not be included.
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she was told by Reid, D-Nev., Monday afternoon that the proposed assault weapons ban she sponsored will not be part of the initial gun control bill the Senate will begin debate on next month.
Feinstein told reporters during a press conference Tuesday that she is “disappointed” the ban will not be part of the larger bill, but conceded that gun-related legislation will be “easier to pass” without it and was likely to fail if it was included. Feinstein went on to say that the ban will be offered as an amendment to the measure.
The removal from the gun control bill means there is little chance the proposed assault weapons ban will be included in new legislation that clears the Senate. The ban was pulled from the bill as a result of lack of support from Republicans and moderate Democrats, and it is unlikely the ban will receive the needed number of votes to be added as an amendment when presented on its own.
When asked about the likelihood of the AWB becoming an amendment, Reid said "Right now, her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes. That's not 60."
White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough said during an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN that “We’re going to find the votes” when asked about the ban passing as an amendment.
Conservative pundits doubt that President Barack Obama will be able to sway those opposed to the ban, either Republican or Democrat, to change their position.
"This is also a timely reminder about how lacking in influence is the president, no matter how the media slobbers over his speeches," wrote the Washington Post's conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin. "This is not a president who is good at persuading the opposition, or even his own side.”
Since the assault weapons ban has been stripped from the bill, advocates for gun control now want the ban on high-capacity clips to be put up as a separate amendment.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a statement “I continue to believe that a more targeted ban on high capacity magazines is an equally effective way to reduce casualties in episodes of mass violence. I believe we need to have a separate floor vote on a high capacity magazine restriction, and I look forward to working with other senators in the coming weeks to develop a reasonable restriction on large volume magazines that can gain bipartisan support."
The ban on assault weapons was one of four gun control measures approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month. The others would expand federal background checks for firearms buyers; toughen federal penalties for illegal gun trafficking and increase money for school security.
The original ban included 19 types of weapons classified as assault style and expired September 12, 2004. Critics of the 10-year old ban said it was ineffective, while supporters said it reduced gang violence as well as reducing the overall use of assault weapons in crimes. At the time nearly seven in 10 Americans supported the ban, including a number of gun-owners, according to a poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.