As expected, Senate Majority Leader won't bring Senator Dianne Feinstein's "assault weapons" ban legislation to the Senate floor for a vote as a part of a larger gun control package.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on Monday that a controversial assault weapons ban will not be part of a Democratic gun bill that was expected to reach the Senate floor next month.
After a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday, a frustrated Feinstein said she learned that the bill she sponsored — which bans 157 different models of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines — wouldn’t be part of a Democratic gun bill to be offered on the Senate floor. Instead, it can be offered as an amendment. But its exclusion from the package makes what was already an uphill battle an almost certain defeat.
“My understanding is it will not be [part of the base bill],” Feinstein said. “It will be separate.”
Asked if she were concerned about the decision, Feinstein paused and said, “Sure. I would like to [see the bill moved], but the leader has decided not to do it.”
“You will have to ask him [Reid],” she said, when asked why the decision was made.
Now, just because Feinstein's legislation is pretty much off the table doesn't mean criminalization of private firearms transfers, otherwise known as universal background check legislation, being brought to the floor for a vote is a good thing. In fact, it's a terrible bill.
"The first point I want to make goes to process. When this bill was first listed on the Committee agenda to be marked up, it was just a list of findings. It was not ready to be marked up. The language has changed. It is still not ready to be marked up. But we are marking it up anyway. We were told there was such widespread support for universal background checks that a bipartisan bill would be on its inevitable way to passage. Instead, three of the four senators involved in those discussions do not endorse this bill. The bill is somewhat similar to a bill Senator Schumer introduced in the previous Congress. So let’s start with the big picture problems," Grassley said. "And this bill would eliminate private sales. Talk about unintended consequences."
As has been pointed out by many pro-gun advocates already, Grassley reiterated that universal background checks cannot be enforced without universal gun registration and eventually gun confiscation.
"There is no way to enforce a requirement of universal background checks without implementing gun registration. I know Senator Schumer says that federal law prevents such a registry. But federal law can be changed by federal law. And this would-be federal law requires the federal licensed dealer to keep a registration record of the transfer," Grassley said. "Mass shootings would continue to occur despite universal background checks. Criminals will continue to steal guns and buy them illegally to circumvent the requirements. When that happens, we will be back here debating whether gun registration is needed. And when registration fails, then the next step is gun confiscation."
Grassley also objected to the lack of focus on mental health issues in the legislation and points out that although we've been hearing a whole lot about gun safety, this bill would eliminate gun safety courses.
"The bill greatly restricts the rights of law abiding citizens. The bill’s family exception applies to gifts only. It does not permit lending a gun to a family member. The bill does not permit a temporary transfer in the home," Grassley said. "So a gun owner cannot bring a new gun to a friend’s house and let him handle it briefly. If a gun owner and a friend return from the shooting range, then stop at the friend’s house, the friend can’t handle the owner’s gun to show him how better to clean it. An owner can transfer his gun to a friend at a licensed shooting range or while hunting. But if they go target shooting in a National Forest or on the friend’s farm, the owner can’t let the friend use his gun. On top of that, gun safety instruction will be rendered impossible in many situations by the bill. This training could occur at a target range. But many of these classes take place at schools, office buildings, sporting goods stores and other locations. Only at the end does the class go to a shooting range for live fire instruction. So gun safety instructors could not offer the classroom component of the course anywhere except a shooting range or at the instructor’s home."
For good measure and in case you missed it, Feinstein isn't just frustrated with Harry Reid, she's upset with Texas Senator Ted Cruz too.
UPDATE: Feinstein told reporters on Capitol Hill today according to Roll Call, "I tried my best, but my best, I guess, wasn’t good enough."
UPDATE II: Harry Reid barely had more than 30 votes for this thing, proving just how little support a new assault weapons ban actually has. The good news is, it looks like the terrible universal background check legislation won't make it to the floor either.
“Right now her amendment using the most optimistic numbers has less than 40 votes," Reid told reporters on Tuesday. "That’s not 60. I have to get something on the floor so we can have votes on that issue and the other issues we talked about."
Reid indicated a proposal sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to expand background checks to cover private gun sales would not make it in the base bill, either.
“There are a couple different background check proposals floating around,” Reid said. “All these issues are important and I’m going to do what I can to make sure we have a fair, sound debate on this but we can’t have it unless I have something that I can put on the floor to proceed to it.
“I’m not going to try to put something on the floor that won’t succeed. I want something that will succeed,” he added.