WASHINGTON - An assault weapons ban won't be in the gun-control legislation that Democrats bring to the Senate floor next month, a decision that means the ban's chances of survival now are all but hopeless.
The ban is the most controversial firearms restriction that President Barack Obama and other Democrats have pressed for since an assault-type weapon was used in the December massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Rejection by Congress would be a major victory for the National Rifle Association and its supporters and a setback for Obama and the provision's sponsor, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
In a tactical decision, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., concluded that including the prohibition in the gun bill would jeopardize the chances for passage of any firearms legislation at all, taking away votes that would be needed to overcome Republican attempts to block the Senate from even taking up the issue.
In this Feb. 25 file photo, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Feinstein, the sponsor of a proposed assault weapons ban says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has told her that the ban will not be part of the initial gun control measure the Senate will debate next month.
"I very much regret it," Feinstein said Tuesday of the choice that Reid told her he had made. "I tried my best. But my best, I guess, wasn't good enough."
Feinstein's proposal to prohibit military-style weapons will still get a vote as an amendment to the gun legislation that Democrats debate. But she is all but certain to need 60 votes from the 100-member Senate to prevail, and she faces solid Republican opposition as well as likely defections from some Democrats.