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"I can't fight the NRA," said ban sponsor Sen. Dianne Feinstein. (Photo: Mike Petrucci/flickr)

'Spineless' Senate Democrats Drop Assault Weapons Ban From Gun Legislation

'If Sandy Hook Elementary doesn’t make every member of Congress take a stand against assault weapons in this country, then what does?'

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he dropped a proposed ban on assault weapons from gun control legislation on Tuesday, as the proposal failed to gather the necessary support, including from fellow Democrats, and marked "another win" for the powerful NRA.

"I’m not going to try to put something on the floor that won’t succeed," Reid (D-Nev.) said on Tuesday of the ban sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein 9 (D-Calif.).  He said the proposal had garnered fewer than 40 votes, not a sufficient number of votes to overcome a filibuster or pass the Senate.

"The worst thing in the world would be to bring something to the floor and it dies there. I am working to put something together than can get 60 votes on the floor," said Reid.

"I can't fight the NRA," said Feinstein, reacting to the decision.  "The NRA spends unlimited sums, backed by the gun manufacturers, who are craven in my view."

As Agence France-Presse explains,

The Feinstein measure would have prohibited the manufacture, import and sale of 157 models of assault weapons, including the one used on December 14 to kill 20 schoolchildren and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It would have been a reprisal of her 1994 assault weapons ban, which only squeaked through Congress because it included a sunset provision that caused it to expire in 2004.

And adds that:

the ban's lukewarm support among Democrats was "the handwriting on the wall," Republican Senator James Inhofe told AFP.

In a scathing reaction to the decision titled "Spineless pols spit on the graves of Newtown victims by not pushing for assault weapons ban," New York Daily News' Mike Lupica writes:

But what does the President say now to the families of the victims of Sandy Hook, and Aurora, Colo., and all the other victims of mass murders and glory killers in this country? What does he say now that it becomes clear that a ban on assault weapons won’t even be legitimately included in the gun legislation being shaped this week in the U.S. Senate?

Any fool knows that Lanza couldn’t possibly have killed as many children as quickly as he did on the morning of Dec. 14 without an assault weapon in his hands. So how does the President and any other big politician who allows the gun nuts from the National Rifle Association to win again answer the larger question about weapons that make killings like the elementary-school massacre ridiculously easy:

If not now for a ban for these weapons, when?

If Sandy Hook Elementary doesn’t make every member of Congress take a stand against assault weapons in this country, then what does? How many small coffins do we need the next time?

ABC News explains that

The assault weapons ban will still get a vote. It will be voted on as a standalone measure as an amendment to the base gun control bill. But stripping it off the base bill leaves it vulnerable and decreases the chance of it passing, as it will not receive the same support that it could have if it was bundled with the other less controversial measures.

And the New York Times reports on the backwards turn the legislation could take:

Mr. Reid will introduce the one measure that does have ample bipartisan support, the straw purchasing provision [that would increase the penalties for people who buy guns for those barred from having them,], which would make the already illegal practice a felony and increase penalties.

But a bill that is limited to stemming straw purchases would be all but certain to enrage groups that have been seeking broader legislation. They want measures that would make it more difficult for criminals and mentally ill people to obtain firearms and would limit the size of magazines.

If Mr. Reid considers only the straw purchasing measure, it is likely that senators who favor gun rights will offer a flood of pro-gun amendments, many of them likely to pass the full Senate, which could essentially turn a bill intended to strengthen gun regulations into one that enhances gun rights.


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