The comprehensive gun bill to be presented by Senate Democrats will not include an assault weapons ban. The decision to remove the ban from the bill came from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who saw that the politics of the situation had to trump the preferred policy of his Democratic party. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cali.), the leading proponent of the assault weapons ban will instead present two amendments to the Democrats' gun bill.
"People say well, are you disappointed? Obviously I'm disappointed," Feinstein told reporters. “The enemies on this are very powerful. I've known that all my life,” she said, referring to the NRA and its gun lobby brethren, and her life in politics fighting them.
Feinstein plans to bring two amendments to the bill, the assault weapons ban (doomed), and a narrower ban on high-capacity magazines, which probably won't pass, but could get closer.
Harry Reid's decision could save both the bill, which likely would have been unable to make it through the senate, and the electoral fates of three Democratic senators. Kay Hagan (NC), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Tim Johnson (S.D.) face tough reelection fights in 2014, in right-leaning, pro-gun states, and they are glad to be able to to vote for a gun reform bill against an assault weapons ban.
Democrats have a good chance of getting their bill through the Senate, and a decent chance of getting something like it through the House. It remains clear, however, that the gun lobby exerts a strong force in Washington, and that they will fight change every step of the way.