It’s always seemed unlikely that Congress would reinstate a version of the 1994 assault weapons ban, and Harry Reid is now poised to put the final nail in the coffin. Politico reports that following a meeting with the Senate majority leader on Monday, Dianne Feinstein said the bill she sponsored won’t be part of the Democratic gun bill that might be offered on the Senate floor as early as this week. “My understanding is it will not be [part of the base bill],” Feinstein said. “It will be separate.” The assault weapons ban would be offered as an amendment, which would almost certainly be defeated.
When asked about the reasons behind the decision, Feinstein said, “You will have to ask him [Reid].” The move highlights that it will be difficult to pass any gun control measure in Congress, even without the assault weapons ban. The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a gun trafficking bill, a plan to increase school safety, and a universal background checks proposal backed only by Democrats (efforts to reach a bipartisan deal fell apart, though Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin are still hoping to get a Republican senator on board). Negotiations are still underway, but Politico reports that there are two paths Reid is likely to pursue:
Reid could advance a gun trafficking bill with a school safety provision; some form of background checks and the assault weapons ban would then be offered as amendments. In the other scenario, Reid might offer a background checks bill that includes the gun trafficking and school safety provisions, with assault weapons again offered as an amendment.
The Senate Majority Leader has never been a big proponent of Feinstein’s assault weapons bill. On This Week With George Stephanopoulos last month he wouldn’t commit to supporting it himself, and remarked, “I didn’t vote for the assault weapons last time because it … didn’t make sense.” Though, Reid has promised that “the assault weapons ban gets a vote on the floor.”