Assault Weapons Ban Will Not Be Part Of Senate Gun Bill

The future of an “Assault Weapons”  ban looks ever more dim now that it’s been revealed that such a proposal will not be part of the gun bill that the Senate will be taking up:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on Monday that a controversial assault weapons ban will not be part of a Democratic gun bill that was expected to reach the Senate floor next month.

After a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday, a frustrated Feinstein said she learned that the bill she sponsored — which bans 157 different models of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines — wouldn’t be part of a Democratic gun bill to be offered on the Senate floor. Instead, it can be offered as an amendment. But its exclusion from the package makes what was already an uphill battle an almost certain defeat.

The ban is supported by more than a dozen Senate Democrats and the White House, as well as gun-control groups.

“My understanding is it will not be [part of the base bill],” Feinstein said. “It will be separate.”

Asked if she were concerned about the decision, Feinstein paused and said, “Sure. I would like to [see the bill moved], but the leader has decided not to do it.”

“You will have to ask him [Reid],” she said, when asked why the decision was made.

There’s really no doubt about what will happen to Feinstein’s bill if it’s offered as an amendment to the Senate bill. It will be defeated quite handily. As for why Reid has done this,, that’s also pretty easy to figure out. As it stands, the fate of the other provisions of the Senate bill, universal background checks and limitations on the size of magazines, are far from certain in either the Senate or the House. Adding Feinstein’s bill to the mix would almost certainly mean its defeat in the Senate. Reid is smart enough to know this and he’s also smart enough to know that the red-state Democrats up for re-election in 2014 are not going to vote in favor of Feinstein’s bill. By forcing her to introduce it as an amendment rather than making it part of the core bill, he gives them an opportunity to vote against it without voting down the entire bill. The fate of the rest of the bill is, as I noted, uncertain, especially in the House, but with this move Reid makes it more likely that at least something will pass the Senate.


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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. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Food For Thought…

    Listen and watch to how 152 bullets and a Bushmaster AR-15 with five 30 round clips were used in Sandy Hook.

    Worth the watch.

    Apparently, slaughter and outrage is no longer enough to drive legislation.

  2. Do not despair, however.  The truck control agenda stays alive!

  3. matt bernius says:

    Getting ready for a rehash of the same old, same old outrage on this one.

    Reid made the right decision. There should be better regulation of semi-automatic long guns with removable magazines (as there should be with all guns). But the ban isn’t the right way to do it.

    More importantly, if putting forward a ban endangered the rest of the bill (in particular the extension of background checks), then it would have been a symbolic move that makes us all less safe rather than more.

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    Baby steps.

  5. Rob in CT says:

    I think it’s obviously the right call. If you’re actually trying to do something about gun violence in America, assault rifles aren’t the right target. And legislating based on tragic outliers is a bad idea.

    I’m in favor of better gun control, not dumb symbolic gestures (in particular, dumb symbolic gestures that would never pass anyway).

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    In related news: Bears shit in woods, water is wet, sun rises in east, and liberals on Internet blogs are loopy space cadets.

    Obviously there was not going to be any transformative gun control legislation out of Congress. For obvious reasons. And that’s a good thing. Ask the corpses of gunshot victims in the likes of Chicago, San Francisco, L.A., Detroit, Baltimore and Philly, etc. They’ll tell you.

    Perhaps the greatest irony here is that if the left was not so stark raving nuts on this issue they could get a large part of their agenda implemented in real life. Congress could enact national waiting periods and background checks tomorrow. Provided, however, the left was willing to compromise and in exchange to preempt state and local gun restrictions and to allow common sense tort reforms for gun merchants. Don’t hold your breath, though, again for obvious reasons.

  7. stonetools says:

    There is a tide in the affairs of men.
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

    Obama seems to have never heard of those words. Had he really wanted an AWB, he should have pushed something through right after December 14, when the outrage was still fresh. Instead, he waited till the “Newton’ effect waned. Its been a flaw in his legislative strategy since day one.

    Oh well, I wasn’t committed to the AWB. What worries me now is that they’ll concentrate on whittling down the background checks to nothing, as the Newton effect fades. After all, they scuttled the AWB at the first hurdle . I expect we’ll see a lot more propaganda, along the lines of “universal background checks are just Stage One in the UN taking away our guns”. If we end up up with an in effective background checks regime, the children of Newton would have died in vain .

  8. anjin-san says:

    Ultimately, guns are a symptom, not the disease. Are we ever going to, as a society, take a long look in the mirror and ask the hard questions about persuasive violence in this country?

    Hell, we all know how much damage the war on drugs is doing. Liberals and conservatives agree on it. And they don’t agree on anything. Yet nothing changes. Follow the money…

  9. anjin-san says:

    @ stonetools

    he should have pushed something through right after December 14, when the outrage was still fresh.

    Obama’s thinking seems to be dominated by reason, which often plays a fairly small part in these matters.

  10. David Lentz says:

    The nice thing about being a liberal is nover having to learn. Dianne Feinstein passed on so-called “assault weapon ban”: based on cosmetic differences. It accomplished nothing, Now she wants to the same thing all over again.

    Hint, Senator merely resembling a military grade weapon does not make a weapon inherently more dangeous. The mlitary uses machine guns and they have long been banned.

  11. matt says:

    @anjin-san: Indeed. There’s too much money to be made (on both sides) with the status quo..

  12. matt says:

    @bill: 7.62×39 is rough to find but I’ve been able to find a decent amount of about everything else.