“Assault Weapons” Ban Goes Down By Decisive Margin

Just under 20 years ago, the Congress passed an “Assault Weapons” ban, and it passed the Senate by an overwhelming 95-4 margin (source). Today, a similar ban failed to pass the Senate by a fairly decision margin:

The Senate rejected implementing an assault weapons ban Wednesday on an 40-60 vote.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the assault weapons ban as amendment to a gun control bill being considered by the Senate. Her amendment would have restored the weapons ban that expired in 2004. She said she was “dismayed” at the lack of courage from senators who were voting against gun control measures.

Despite getting the endorsement of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) earlier Wednesday, Feinstein was unable to get the 60 votes necessary to pass her amendment.

“I believe you should have the right to own a gun,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “But you do not need an assault weapon to defend yourself and your property. Assault weapons have one purpose and one purpose alone, to kill a lot of people very quickly.”

Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Joe Donnelley (Ind.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Max Baucus (Mont.) were among the red-state Democrats who against the amendment. GOP Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.) supported Feinstein’s amendment.

As with the Manchin/Toomey vote, this outcome is not at all surprising. However, it is interesting to see how much the political landscape has changed over the past 20 years.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Guns and Gun Control, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Paul L. says:

    a similar ban
    It is not a similar “Assault Weapons” ban if it does not have a 10 year expiration date and the classification of “Assault” weapons with two or more (not one) cosmetic features.

  2. wr says:

    @bill: “this hyperbole did nothing aside from cause a run on guns/ammo. ”

    By morons.

  3. Davebo says:

    Hilarious. I understand they are also considering a “chemical weapons” ban. As if the existing ban on “rape and murder” aren’t arduous enough.

    Thank god we don’t have a “hyperbole” ban hamstringing us!

  4. Davebo says:

    And for the record… If five armed gunmen break into your home simultaneously and you require a “30 round magazine” in order to defend your family you really shouldn’t be allowed to own a weapon at all due to sheer ineptitude.

  5. Brett says:

    It’s hard to even feel disappointed. If Toomey-Manchin had gotten past cloture, it still would have died a slow death due to the impossibility of getting anything gun-related through the House.

  6. Ben Wolf says:

    How about we pass a law that anyone can have a weapon, and that anyone found carrying one will be shot on sight. Then everyone gets what they want.