A proposed ban on sales
of assault weapons would be defeated in the U.S. Senate today unless some members changed their current views, based on a Bloomberg review of recent lawmaker statements and interviews.
At least six of the 55 senators who caucus with Democrats have recently expressed skepticism or outright opposition to a ban, the review found. That means Democrats wouldn’t have a simple 51-vote majority to pass the measure, let alone the 60 votes needed to break a Republican filibuster to bring it to a floor vote.
A ban on the military-style weapons is among the legislative goals President Barack Obama
outlined in his recommendations to Congress on curbing gun violence after the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut. Vice President Joe Biden said today it will take “persuasion and information” to garner the necessary support in Congress to enact the White House package.
“We have an obligation to act -- not wait,” Biden told reporters after a more than two-hour roundtable at Virginia Commonwealth University to discuss the administration’s push for new gun-safety measures.
Yesterday, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California introduced legislation to outlaw sales of assault- style weapons during a news conference where survivors of past shootings, some of them with bullets still lodged in their bodies, urged its passage.
At that event, Feinstein said it’s unclear whether the fight is winnable. “We don’t know, it’s so uphill,” she said. “It depends on the courage of Americans.”
The five Democratic senators from traditionally pro-gun states who have recently expressed skepticism about the bill are Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Independent Senator Angus King of Maine, who is caucusing with Democrats, also said he opposes a ban.
Maine Senator Susan Collins, a Republican who supported similar legislation in 2004, has indicated she is unlikely to back the proposed ban in its current form.
The 1994 assault weapons ban, signed by President Bill Clinton, expired in 2004 and, until the school shooting in Newtown, there’s been little effort in Congress to renew it.