Key Gun Proposal Falls Apart in Senate

The assault weapons ban, an idea supported by President Obama, has lost much of its traction in the Senate.

Posted on 3/20/2013

New gun legislation has traditionally been very difficult to pass.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who 35 years ago discovered the bullet-riddled body of the gay activist Harvey Milk, reacted with anger on Tuesday that gun control legislation the Senate is to consider next month will not include the reinstatement of an assault weapons ban, a measure she had fought desperately to keep.

“How many assault weapons do you need circulating?” Ms. Feinstein said to reporters, noting that her bill, which had almost no chance of a hearing in the House, exempted many weapons. “To have these mass killings is such a blight on everything that America stands for.”

At a Senate hearing last week, Ms. Feinstein said that she still could not get out of her mind looking for the pulse of Mr. Milk, her colleague at the time on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and in the process “putting my fingers in a bullet hole.”

Senate Democrats plan to introduce after the Easter recess a bill widely supported by both parties that would increase the penalties for people who buy guns for those barred from having them, known as straw purchasing. But Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, told Ms. Feinstein on Monday that her assault weapons ban would not be included in the bill.


Dianne Feinstein.

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