The Corner

No Assault-Weapons Ban in Senate Bill?

One almost feels sorry for Dianne Feinstein. Her first assault-weapons ban was widely judged to be a failure, and her more expansive second try seems set to be ignored by her colleagues in the Senate. Per the Wall Street Journal:

Senate Democratic leaders expect a gun bill to move to the Senate floor that includes most of the proposals backed by President Barack Obama, with the notable exception of a ban on military-style, semiautomatic weapons, a top aide to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said.

The bill would likely seek to limit the capacity of ammunition magazines; expand background checks to include sales at gun shows and other private transactions; and require better record keeping to keep guns out of the hands of those with mental illnesses. It would also try to curb gun sales in states with more relaxed gun laws to buyers in states with stricter laws.

It is possible that some of Feinstein’s measures will find their way into the bill via the open amendment process that Reid has promised. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. Reid has also indicated that, in order to be put up for a vote, any Senate bill must be moderate enough to pass the House. If he is serious about this, then it seems unlikely that the amendment process will be used to make the bill more restrictive.

Background checks have some — some — chance of passing Congress. But an assault-weapons ban cannot, and I’m not convinced that limiting the size of magazines is going to fly either. Of course, there’s always the chance that this Senate bill is set up in such a way that various bits can be removed and, in the pursuit of the ultimate goal of universal background checks, a “compromise” can be reached. But even if that is the case, the Senate is starting the process on a pretty weak footing. 

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