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Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Guns, Law | 30 comments

Sign of Death for Assault Weapons Ban: Reid Declines to Endorse It

Luojie, China Daily, China

You might title retitle this story from The Hill “The NRA Wins Again”:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday declined to voice support for Democratic legislation that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

Reid said he would bring gun-violence legislation to the floor and open it to a lengthy amendment process. But he declined to endorse the assault weapons ban introduced last week by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), which has the support of the 2nd- and 3rd-ranking Senate Democratic leaders.

“She’s talked to me about her assault weapons. The new one. She believes in it fervently and I admire her for that. I’ll take a look at that,” he said in response to a reporter’s question. “We’re going to have votes on all kinds of issues dealing with guns, and I think everyone would be well advised to read the legislation before they determine how they’re going to vote [on] it.”

Feinstein’s bill would ban the sale and manufacture of more than 150 types of semi-automatic weapons, including handguns with fixed magazines capable of holding more than 10 bullets.

Republicans have raised doubts that Reid will even bring gun-control legislation to the Senate floor. Reid helped defeat an effort five years ago to renew the federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

Reid dispelled the GOP speculation.

He said he has told his colleagues he will do everything in his power to “bring legislation dealing with guns and violence, generally, to the floor.”

You can place your bets now in Vegas on this one: there will be no assault weapons ban.

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  • zephyr


  • slamfu

    Well the NRA should win this one. An “assault weapon” ban is just silly. A guy with a two semi-auto pistols and all the clips he can carry can do just as much damage by ambushing a crowded public place. Just look at the Virginia Tech massacre. When they come up with a real plan, they are going to get somewhere. But keep coming up with fluff bills that don’t address the real issues and you deserve to get nowhere. As far as I’m concerned this is a case of the system working.

  • dduck

    I’m not wild about Harry. But the NRA is.

  • zusa1

    dd 🙂

  • petew


    Although I really didn’t expect gun control legislation to succeed, I do disagree with you on some important points. I am re-posting your comments below so I can refer to it more easily, without going back and forth:

    “Well the NRA should win this one. An “assault weapon” ban is just silly. A guy with a two semi-auto pistols and all the clips he can carry can do just as much damage by ambushing a crowded public place. Just look at the Virginia Tech massacre. When they come up with a real plan, they are going to get somewhere. But keep coming up with fluff bills that don’t address the real issues and you deserve to get nowhere. As far as I’m concerned this is a case of the system working.”

    One common argument used to nullify the potential effect of banning Assault weapons, Is that, as you said,(to paraphrase) A guy with couple of other weapons
    and all the clips he can carry, can do just as much damage by ambushing a crowded public place.

    First, I must bring up the fact that most advocates for gun restrictions also desire to prohibit semi-automatic pistols such as the Glock 9mm which I believe was used in the Virginia tech shooting.

    Secondly, most who recommend gun restrictions also think it a good idea to ban high capacity clips with more than 10 rounds.

    Thirdly, It seems obvious that someone using a high power assault weapon capable of rapidly firing a large number of rounds with each clip, stands a better chance to kill and injure many more victims, and, also can avoid being stopped by armed authorities much more easily.

    If you doubt this last statement of mine, I would ask you to honestly answer the following hypothetical question:

    If you and I were in a gun battle, and I had an assault weapon with a thirty round clip capable of rapidly firing ammunition, and you had a less powerful regular handgun with only 10 rounds in the clip—assuming we both start shooting the first round at the same time—whose ammunition clip would likely need changing first? And, assuming you can change clips within a second or two (which I doubt most people in such a situation would be able to do) wouldn’t even an extra second or two, afford me with a greater opportunity to overcome you while you changed your clip? furthermore wouldn’t an extra second or too, give a potential victims, some vital time to duck around a corner, or to run out the door?

    I can’t see how anyone can deny that the person with the large capacity clip and the assault weapon, would have more opportunity to prevail against someone with less ammunition and a more slowly firing gun!

    It is also empirically evident that, if assault weapons and semi-automatics were specifically prohibited along with initiating a fair buyback program, eventually less of them in circulation would mean that, less of them would be available to unstable mass shooters. That, along with truly effective background checks, given to everyone who buys a gun, would certainly, play a positives role by preventing the most powerful weapons from getting into the right hands!

    Yes, the gun lobby and the NRA are a powerful force and will probably be able to get around any meaningful regulations that might become law, and many members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, either do not support gun laws, or, are afraid to go against the power of the NRA. They can congratulate themselves for winning, but morally—when considering how many victims of gun shootings might have otherwise been spared by new legislation—this victory will be a hollow one!

    Whether you believe otherwise because you prefer that no weapons should be banned, or even if you are just cynical because of all fluff bills that are proposed, it is true that “real” legislation is needed for success. And, although we really need to regulate certain weapons, that cannot happen until far more other Congressmen quit fearing not being re-elected because they no longer fear the NRA!

  • Uh – Slamfu has this one essentially right.

    It is true that high capacity magazines make a difference, or at least a potential difference. However, banning assault “style” weapons is a cosmetic sleight of hand. These are semi-automatic weapons packaged to “look like” military weapons.

    Please understand this: the proposed [and misnamed] “assault weapons ban” DOES NOT purport to ban semi-automatic rifles, hand guns or shotguns generally. There is a consistent misperception of this among gun control advocates.

    To use the analogy used above: if I have a semi-automatic hunting style rifle that can squeeze off 5 rounds per minute and you have a semi-automatic “assault style” rifle that can squeeze off 5 rounds per minute, you’re dead because the weaponry is equal I am very likely a much better shot than you are. 🙂

    The only variant would be magazine capacity and that can, and should, be regulated without the silliness of banning guns that “look like” military, but really aren’t.

  • dduck

    Just to make things more complicated, it is possible to have a legal unregistered AR-15 or Glock,Just use your 3-D printer:
    Next step, regulating ammo, which can’t be printed out.

  • dduck

    What, ES said.

  • SteveK

    The continued “semi-automatics only firing 5 rounds a minute” story is nothing more than a lie. Sometimes intentional… sometimes not.

    Forward to 00:01:45 and watch what 75 rounds in three seconds looks like coming out of one of those “five round a minute” semi-automatic “assault style” rifle.

    This isn’t rocket science folks… But it’s not Red Green either.

    Edit to add: Watch the whole video and you’ll see that this is a stock weapon with no doctoring or mechanical changes.

  • Steve,

    If ever we meet, I shall endeavor to educate re: parlor tricks that one can play with any semi-automatic rifle. The particular parlor trick in this video can be done every bit as well with a semi-automatic hunting style rifle. There is nothing about the “assault style” that makes this parlor trick easier or unique to that particular packaging.

    Yes, you can bump fire a semi-automatic…it’s a cool trick if you’re a gun enthusiast…and if your target is the size of a barn, or a large pond, you might get lucky and hit something.

    On a serious note, you and I both support gun control. In my view it is important that those of us who support gun control get our facts correct. If we don’t, we leave ourselves open to attack from the pro-gun crowd that we don’t know what we’re talking about. Bump firing really is more trick than useful in the real world. Before being overly impressed with the trick, one question: can anyone here point to a mass shooting where bump firing was employed? I am not aware of any such situation…and if you understand what it takes to perform this trick and the loss of accuracy that accompanies it, you’d understand why.

    Forgive my attitude.

  • slamfu

    Well Pete, a few things. The “assault” ban is loved by the gun lobby, because its really easy to get around. The minor modifications they can make and skirt the law is a well known joke.

    Second, while in a matchup between two armed people, yes the person with the assault rifle has a leg up. However, that is never the situation in these mass shootings. These guys are gunning down unarmed people. They practice with the guns before they go out, swapping clips isn’t going to take them that long. They almost never get in a gun battle with police, usually either surrendering or shooting themselves before it gets to that point.

    You want to make guns less deadly, ban ALL clips and magazine loaded guns. Pistols, rifles, the lot of them. Revolvers, shotguns, etc only… Magazines are what makes these weapons capable of killing so fast. Whether its a 30 round or a 5 round magazine, ban it. People would be able to have a weapon for self defense, just not a running gun battle or blowing away a room full of people.

  • SteveK

    Hi tidbits,

    I really am looking forward to that three hour lunch some day because even though we don’t always agree it’s nice disagreeing with someone who thinks rather than taking the disagreement personal. That’s not only productive; it also makes for good conversation… Thank you.

    Regarding whether ‘bumping’ a semi-automatic is a mere parlor trick that can be done with any semi-automatic hunting rifle we’ll have to disagree because, unless your hunting rifle has an assault rifle front grip (assault rifle style) it simply cannot be bumped.

    I also disagree on your comment “you might get lucky and hit something” because in my opinion even if the ‘bumper’ is aiming at the front row in the theater and accidentally takes out the seventh through ninth row the damage has still been done.

    I agree that you and I agree more than disagree on this topic it seems though that we disagree on the potential danger of what you seem to honestly see as a parlor trick and what I see as 25% of the crowd in a multiplex.

    Forgive you attitude hell… I like your attitude. 🙂

  • “In my view it is important that those of us who support gun control get our facts correct. If we don’t, we leave ourselves open to attack from the pro-gun crowd that we don’t know what we’re talking about.”

    Exactly this ES. I like to think that when discussing any issue, it’s best for all of us to use the correct lingo and understand the bounds of definitions and problems. While I initially resisted this fight about the definition of “assault rifle” because it felt rooted in Fox News talking points, I do think we need to be honest about what is ACTUALLY an assault-style weapon and what appears to be one, so that we’re not instituting arbitrary controls that do little to solve a problem. Otherwise, it just becomes another talking point for those opposed even to reasonable gun control.

  • The_Ohioan

    I can remember, in 1991, a Senator (I think it was Simpson) who said their hearings were done, Clarence Thomas would be approved, and they wouldn’t be opened again to hear testimony from a former employee, Anita Hill. Women started ringing the phones off the hook and furious Senators had to backtrack and listen to her testimony. The following year saw women in the Senate double (from 2 to 4) and women were running for every local, state and national seat available. Things haven’t been the same since.

    Never get in the way of citizens when they really, really, want something done. Harry needs a reminder; pronto.

    Hubris: means extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.

  • petew

    slamfu, and ELIJAH SWEET,

    Yes, I understand that through the power of lobbying, gun advocates are able to easily circumvent many of the inadequate restrictions we have placed on dangerous weapons. So, doesn’t part of the solution have to be to make very specific restrictions that cannot be easily ignored.

    If we need to define semi-automatics as opposed to those that merely look the part, then make those specific definitions crystal clear as part of any new restrictions. If political opportunists use many tricks that allow them to get around effective gun legislation,then make other laws which specifically define all those tricks, and prohibits them from being used. You can’t tell me that a government which has developed a mammoth tax code full of thousands of specific provision, and in which many banks have dozens of specific charges which are concealed in the small print in order to nickel and dime credit card users, that we cannot be required to reveal all of those charges to potential card holders, and that we cannot effectively define terms like “assault weapons” to prevent their use! We are a nation capable of spying on millions of electronic transmissions at once, and can sift out potentially dangerous messages from terrorists, by the use of our technological know how. So, how can we NOT be able to specifically define which guns are truly semi-automatics, and how can we NOT use those specific regulations in order to forbid them? We also have housing codes with numerous requirements that have been defined in order to avoid certain defects in the materials and the manufacturing of new homes—regulations we currently use and enforce? So, I think the obvious answers for this gun problem include overcoming political resistance and developing the motivation needed to really get down to it!

    I am also aware that most mass shooters, commit mass carnage and kill themselves before they are stopped by police. But if anything like the proposed school marshal program is used, or, if some teachers agree to bring firearms to school in order to defend against intruders, they may have a real advantage if they come up against someone who is forced to reload in the midst of an attack—not to mention that police are sometimes at the location before the shooter succeeds in killing even more—including him or herself. And then there is the situation I already brought up, when a potential victim benefits from a few extra seconds to run around the corner and escape the assault.

    How can anyone say that even limited advantages when it comes to saving human lives, are not worth doing? Banning certain types of weapons and perhaps making use of reasonable buy back programs could eventually remove these damaging weapons from public circulation and, therefore,remove them from the killing field of a school building, or prevent their use in committing other serious gun crimes.

    AS far as the bumping technique representing a parlor trick or an insignificant anomaly—you are undoubtedly correct, however, I am not comfortable knowing that anyone who would be able to get his hands on that type of weapon, could recklessly display that parlor trick for entertainment. In fact, the guy in SteveK’s video does not particularly impress me as a responsible type of person. That, and considering that even deer hunters must take care of how they hold their guns, how to use the safety, and being sure not to fire towards populated areas where they might cause the unintended wounding of others, makes me wonder why these bumping trick were developed in the first place or why they are still allowed. An analogy might be that, the old formulas for Coca-cola used to enable converting part of the contents into alcohol by using a plain aspirin, but, eventually, after many teenagers used this knowledge to get drunk, the company corrected it’s formula so that this could no longer happen. So why in Gods name are we refusing prevent parlor tricks for entertainment and attempting to do all that it takes to remove certain types of weapons from public availability—especially when they are known to often be favored by mass shooters? Why can’t we do this in the name of public safety, just like Coca-Cola Co. changed its formula to prevent any dangerous use, and abuse, of its product?

    If you tell me that it will be very difficult to pass effective legislation for all of the reasons listed in these forums, and, if you tell me there is little chance of prevailing in reforming gun laws, or making new restrictions in today s political climate, I will most certainly agree. But, if you are telling me it is impossible to persist in this effort and eventually change the availability of dangerous weapons, so that dangerous people cannot misuse them, I will tell you that you are mistaken. Imagine what life was like before the modern industrial era, and before most people even had internal combustion engines—as was the case when my dad was a child. Then look at some of the incredible footage of Astronauts frolicking on the moon and gazing at the beautiful blue marble called earth, floating majestically a quarter of a million miles away! This happened only a little over 60 years after my dad was born, and, I mention it because it illustrates just what we can do if we really try!

    Pardon any personal pontificating—I believe understanding this topic is very important to all of us.

  • petew,

    Respecting your point of view, we are discussing the Feinstein “assault weapons ban”, not an ideal that isn’t on the table.

    I am reminded of the ACA debate. I opposed, and still oppose, ACA, but have made it clear that if the choice had been single payor universal health care [socialized medicine], I might well have had a different opinion. Why? Because, at least in my analysis, single payor would work whereas the ACA model is haphazard and frought with too many negatives, especially in removing discretionary spending dollars from the pockets of citizens by forcing them to spend their disposable income a one particular commodity/service.

    The same is true with the “assault weapons ban”. If the proposal were to ban all semi-automatic weapons regardless of what they looked like, I’d at least have to think about it. Why? Same rationale. The current “assault weapons ban” has no chance of being effective vis-a-vis gun violence because it is too easily evaded. A true ban of all semi-automatics, including a buy back of existing weapons as opposed to grandfathering existing weapons, might actually make a difference. Would I support it? Don’t know. Maybe yes; maybe no. But it would at least be a serious proposal…the “assault weapons ban” is not. My view.

    I agree that banning high capacity magazines [I’d go to the New York model of seven rounds] would have an impact that would not impermissibly affect sports, hunting or personal protection. This, too, needs to be a banning of existing high capacity magazines, not just new manufacture. Current proposed legislation falls short in this regard, though I support it – wishing it were more.

    (Elijah Sweete)

  • zusa1

    I am against laws that just make us feel like we are doing something. They are a waste of time and money and give us an excuse to stop working on the problem.

  • zephyr

    Agree that 7 round mags are a reasonable limit when it comes to capacity. Hunters are a different story and should rarely need more than one shot. Btw, anyone who has fired any gun full-auto (or bump) knows accuracy is seriously compromised. As usual, more common sense in gun debates is always welcome; there rarely seems to be an oversupply.

  • zephyr

    Btw, shooting at a low angle into the water as the guy in the video is doing is pretty stupid. Ever skip rocks?

  • petew


    It’s nice to know we agree about hi-capacity clips, but my comments are intended to cast light on the fact that we are capable of removing assault weapons from the market place if we would simply just want to, and then, just get it done! I don’t think it is a matter of seeking a magical IDEAL, that would finally do the job—I think it is, rather,a matter of removing serious roadblocks which are being given way too much importance when used as talking points of the NRA, and various politicians. We Don’t need an ideal, we just need to quit shooting down legislation because of self-erected political barriers! After all, if we come upon dead trees which are blocking a road, we don’t need to wait for magical unicorns to levitate us over the barrier—we just need an ax, a saw, and our own muscles to remove those trees!

    When it comes to a matter of definitions, the obvious answer is to make specific and binding definitions essential parts of the law, and then include exact specifications prohibiting any use of tricks and/or loopholes to get around those legal specifications.

    I do agree that there is not much chance that this will actually happen at present, and, I accept that a workable agreement (for now) will probably have to include much less binding and specific agreements—but even requiring thorough and universal background checks would be a good start.

    I don’t think that because the suggestions I’ve made will not pass in today’s Congress, that this should be any reason not to recognize that they are possible, and (eventually) achievable. My comments only highlight my own opinion, which is that we are using way too many unnecessary nay-saying arguments and consequently, we are just perpetuating the self-fulfilling prophecy that, actually eliminating the most dangerous weapons from public availability is impossible! I suspect that the only real reason we might possibly never eliminate the violent use of these dangerous weapons (which are unnecessary for private citizens to use for self-protection) is because we continue to think that we can’t get rid of them, and, insist instead, out of political gamesmanship, that this goal is not achievable.

    I truly believe that prohibiting specific types of weapons and specific ways to prevent the use of loopholes that are commonly used to get around them, is only a matter of time. And, we are postponing that time by insisting on hiding our heads in the sand, and believing the illusion of impossibility that is creating our own failures!

    Only ten years ago, I would not have believed that we would elect an African American as our President—at least not in my lifetime. But, that one turned out to be wrong too! I also think a single payer, government provided health care system would have worked much better (it has in almost every other developed Nation in the world) but I would not have voted against the ACA because even an inadequate beginning, is a beginning. I would also—if a member of Congress—support more far-reaching and binding regulations on guns. But it would be foolish to see this matter merely as a political fluff and convenience when members of Congress should be demonstrating to their constituents, that a greater acceptance of sensible regulations is beginning to make headway. If the measure is going to fail—no matter which way I vote—then why not vote from my heart and let the passage of time move towards the fulfillment of my desire to successfully prevent violent gun deaths—along with other supporters—at it’s own rate? At least I will be honest about my opinion!

  • sheknows

    I said this in another post but it bears repeating. I just don’t understand this country.
    This 2nd amendment crap is just pure nonsense. The constitution mentioned slavery and the rights of slave owners but we eliminated slavery and CHANGED the constitution. There is NO reason the keep an archaic amendment like the 2nd either. It should be eliminated. It no longer applies to it’s original intention, and like slavery no longer needs to be there.

    England had 51 homicides last year from gun violence, Germany 157, and Japan just 11.
    Countries that don’t ALLOW their citizens to have easy access to guns have fewer homicides.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    I said this in another post but it bears repeating. I just don’t understand this country.

    This 2nd amendment crap is just pure nonsense. The constitution mentioned slavery and the rights of slave owners but we eliminated slavery and CHANGED the constitution. There is NO reason the keep an archaic amendment like the 2nd either. It should be eliminated. It no longer applies to it’s original intention, and like slavery no longer needs to be there

    Good point, Sheknows.

    There are plenty of parts of the Constitution that we have amended, explained, amplified, re-interpreted, even corrected — as in the case of slavery, womens suffrage, etc. — in light of society progressing and becoming more enlightened, in light of scientific and technological advances, etc. Heck, even one of our most precious Amendments — the First — has been further “amended” through reasonable laws.

    I am not saying throw away the Second — just bring it up to date, into the 21st century.

  • zephyr

    Excellent comments petew and sheknows.

    I am not saying throw away the Second — just bring it up to date, into the 21st century.

    Amen Dorian!

    Younger folks who are qualified and who feel the desire to shoot military type weapons have the option of joining the service where they can learn to do so properly. Otherwise you are a civilian.

  • dduck

    Well, I can’t join the Army again, and I do wish to target shoot in a controlled and safe environment that is far from the areas where the noise will annoy neighbors as is the case in Newtown, for instance, please allow me that much of the 2nd. Let’s not throw the baby out with the AR-15.

  • petew


    The point about the way the Constitution was changed so that it didn’t continue to sanction slavery, is a good one. Just because we currently have a list of guiding amendments, does not mean each one is indelibly etched in stone, like the Ten Commandments might be considered to be. The very fact that we are allowed to amend our Constitution, indicates that the founders recognized that changes were likely to happen, and to be needed, in order to meet new times.

    Some pro-gun comenters don’t seem to get the idea that IF THE 2ND IS TAKEN AT ITS LITERAL MEANING, Americans would be allowed to keep any type of “ARMS” that we desire, including machine guns, flamethrowers and guided missiles etc. So, the fact that private citizens are NOT allowed to own machine guns, or flamethrowers, means that we have already admitted that the way the 2nd is written is not immutable! So, there is no reason we should feel prohibited from changing it in order to exclude assault weapons or semi-automatics. If those words need clarifying, we can do it, and if we want to prevent loopholes to get around changes in any new stipulations incorporated into the 2nd Amendment, we can do that also. All of the hairsplitting and nay-saying is basically meaningless and diversionary. WE CAN DO IT if, we want to, and if we sincerely try!

  • dduck

    Well, the National Guard (modern militia)DOES have all those weapons.

  • petew


    You might possibly be right about the other way the 2nd is often interpreted to apply only to a well regulated Militia and not to ownership of guns by private citizens. However, it has always seemed to me ,that, the way it is written, could very well be interpreted as including the rights of specific individuals. And the way that the first part of the 2nd Amendment is phrased does refer to the right of the people to form a well regulated militia, but,is separated by a comma before the next clause. So, can’t a comma also be construed as an introduction to the next item on a list, as well as a synonymous idea or alternate way of stating the same concept? I think it may be a reference to another idea—including that individual citizens also have a right to self protection with their own guns.

    In any case, I don’t think it is wrong to grant private citizens the right to defend themselves, and their homes, with guns, but obviously, the average citizen does not need to employ excessive use of lawyers and politicians—nor the use of extreme liberties, involving extremely large and powerful weapons.

    Doesn’t the nature of our two party system however, encourage the spirit of cooperation to be involved in order to resolve our common problems? And, even though the average bloke, does NOT uses powerful weapons, This does not legally allow that we should ignore the folly of giving others a blank check for using very powerful weapons. gun owners can still have their rights—just less socially dangerous or unreasonable ones!

    One last point is that, during colonial times when the bulk of North America was a vast uncharted wilderness, doesn’t it stand to reason that those in these many untamed areas, might need to use guns just to sustain their own, and their families health and well being? It would not seem practical to deny pioneers in those regions access to weapons for self defense and for their own vital survival needs. It also seems only reasonable that the founders would not want any of these adventurous souls NOT to have inadequate protection!

  • dduck

    Point one: In colonial times it was given AND NORMAL that the elite at that time- non slaves- had firearms for hunting and protection, both before and after the Revolution.

    Point two, we should understand what a “militia” meant in those days to understand why their “rights” should “not be infringed”. This article should help:
    So my conclusion, strictly personal, is that average gun ownership “right” existed before the 2nd, which only refers to the militia.
    If we ignore the 2nd, then can the Federal government regulate fire arms as it does many other things in our lives. I think yes as it does when it says you “must” buy health insurance via a mandate. Of course that opens a whole other can of peas, but I’m sure there are other examples of Federal government control that are less controversial.
    Sorry for being so verbose.

  • The_Ohioan

    The Supreme Court has already ruled that weapons may be owned for self defense but not all weapons may be owned for self defense. If the NRA would abide by that ruling, they would be just fine. They refuse to do that.

  • petew


    I went to the link you provided and could not access the Wall street Journal article you recommended. It was listed but would not come up when I clicked on it.
    Sorry I was not able to read it.

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