By Greg Campbell
The proposed ban on weapons deemed “assault weapons” has drawn much criticism from the right and much praise from the left. However, even its supporters realize that passing the bill through both the Senate and the Republican-controlled House will be a challenge. The president and vice president has made an effort to drum up support in the media and by travelling to various parts of the country to outline their support for the bill and other anti-gun rights legislation.
Now, the proposed bill will face one of the first serious hurdles as a key test vote will occur in the Senate Judiciary Committee perhaps as early as Wednesday. The vote will decide whether the proposed assault weapons ban should be presented to the Senate.
The Senate Judiciary Meeting is set to consider four anti-gun rights bills that have created quite a rift between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. The bills are the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 (Feinstein), the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 (Leahy), the Protecting Responsible Gun Sellers Act of 2013 (Schumer), and the School Safety Enhancements Act of 2013 (Boxer).
“The future of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, which would ban 157 kinds of ‘military-style’ assault weapons, is gloomy at best in the Democratic-controlled Senate and worse in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives. Neither the House nor the Senate versions of the assault weapons ban have Republican co-sponsors.
Lawmakers who have championed the bill acknowledged that its path to passage would be difficult but hoped that public opinion would help push hesitant lawmakers to give it a second look.
‘I recognize it’s an uphill battle, but I also know that these events are going to continue and America has to step up,’ Feinstein, D-Calif., told MSNBC on Monday. ‘I think we will make the case that this is constitutional, I think we will make the case that these weapons do not belong on the streets of our cities.’”
Despite the campaign-style approach to pushing for gun control laws, the bills are certainly facing an uphill battle as the issue is a controversial issue that has been awash in much divisive rhetoric. While anti-gun rights advocates urge America to “do something,” the framers of the anti-gun bills have done little in explaining, exactly, how their bills would be effective in deterring violent crimes, like the shooting in Newtown.
Further, the Obama Administration has done little to enforce the already-existing gun laws, as prosecutions of gun crimes have slowed considerably in the last few years. In 2010, the Obama Justice Department pursued only 44 instances of background check violations in a year that saw 72,600 applications denied on the basis of a background check. Vice President Biden insisted to the NRA that they don’t have the “time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately.”
The Judiciary Committee vote could happen as early as Wednesday; however, Republicans could stall and push the vote until next week. If the committee brings the bills to the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he will allow them to be brought up for a vote. Although, several centrist Democrats have expressed hesitation as 2014 is not too far away and the tough vote is likely endanger several Democrats who hold moderate or pro-gun rights leanings. Even Senator Reid, liberal on many issues, has endeared himself to NRA members in recent years.