Since the massacre in Newtown, Conn., the gun control community has said the same thing over and over again: a new ban on so-called assault weapons sure would be nice, but we really doubt it’s going to happen. From congressional leaders to the White House to gun control proponents to the very sponsor of the new ban in the Senate, there’s no one who doesn’t think the road to a ban is a steep uphill climb at best.
The latest sign the ban isn’t in the cards after the Sandy Hook shootings came in Monday’s Wall Street Journal. An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sketched out a plan for post-Newtown legislation to the paper that includes a lot of stuff gun control advocates want — but left out the ban.
“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,” the story said. “It would also try to curb gun sales in states with more relaxed gun laws to buyers in states with stricter laws.”
On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Reid said he’ll allow amendments on a gun bill giving Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the sponsor of the new assault weapons ban in the Senate, a chance to include it in a final package. But Reid was noncommittal on whether he’d vote for Feinstein’s ban (he’s voted against bans before), and repeated his promise to move a gun bill he thinks the Republican-controlled House could actually pass. That likely means no assault weapons ban.
Yet gun control advocates do publicly support the ban, as does the president. That has given the gun rights community another rallying cry for the faithful as they push back against more politically popular post-Newtown gun law changes like universal background checks. Feinstein in particular is a favorite villain, despite the fact that her legislation doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. On Sunday, National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre cited her when explaining his group’s fear that universal background checks are the first step toward confiscation of guns by federal government agents.
“I don’t think you can trust these — I mean my gosh, Dianne Feinstein said, ‘If we could go door to door and pick ‘em up, I’d do it,’” he said.
So even though an assault weapons ban is most likely not in America’s future, much more talk about it in the coming weeks and months is.