A fatal blow may have been delivered to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) federal ban on ‘assault’ weapons after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said on Monday that it will not be included as part of a comprehensive gun control package that the Senate will consider next month.
Faced with the tough news, Feinstein all but admitted defeat, “I very much regret it” she told reporters, adding, “I tried my best, but my best, I guess, wasn’t good enough.”
When pressed about why Reid opted to omit the 2013 Assault Weapons Ban from the Democratic-sponsored gun package, Feinstein said, “You will have to ask him [Reid].”
Though, technically speaking, the 2013 AWB is not completely dead in the water. It will be offered as an amendment to the larger package – a package that will include a universal background check bill (details to be decided), a bill to increase federal funding for school safety programs and a bill designed to crack down on straw purchasers – when the full Senate convenes.
However, the consensus on Capitol Hill is that the 2013 AWB is a deal breaker and will almost certainly fall short of the amendatory votes it needs to become part of the broader bill.
Reid confirmed this on Tuesday, saying the votes just aren’t there, “But right now her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes. I — that’s not 60.”
Another high-profile gun control measure was also left out and will also require an amendatory vote, the ban on standard-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. While the magazine ban was included under Feinstein’s AWB, it was also drafted as its own measure and proposed by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).
With her own bill likely doomed, Feinstein expressed optimism that her peers in the Senate will at least vote to amend the larger package to include Lautenberg’s magazine ban.
Yet, by and large, Senate Republicans have vehemently opposed legislation that would limit magazine capacity and instead have voiced support for bills that would keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, what they argue is the most effective way to reduce mass shootings.
“To truly address gun violence, and do so with broad bipartisan support, we should be addressing the serious deficiencies in our mental health system, improving our background check database and rigorously enforcing existing laws,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told POLITICO.
Along those lines, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Mark Begich (D-AK) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) introduced a bill that would require that people found mentally defective or incompetent be added to the federal background check system: NICS, National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
“I believe that the best way to interrupt the shooter is to have a mental health system that actually records and enters into the database people who should not be able to buy a gun,” Graham said of his bill.
Whatever gun control package comes out of the Senate, it will still have to clear the GOP-controlled House, which won’t be a walk in the park, as many pro-gun control lawmakers have noted, including Feinstein who made this remark (Joke) about the long road ahead for the Senate gun bill, “Then we face the wonderful House of Representatives.”