President Obama supports the assault weapons ban — to a point.

March 14, 2013
Dianne Feinstein
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Now that the Senate Judiciary Committee has passed legislation banning nearly 160 types of military-style assault weapons, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) would love to have President Obama give it a major legislative push. Judging by White House spokesman Jay Carney's comments Thursday, Feinstein shouldn't hold her breath.

When asked during his daily briefing whether Obama would be lobbying on the measure, Carney replied the president has been examining whether "we can continue to work on the bipartisan progress that we've seen on comprehensive immigration reform and on measures to reduce gun violence."

Pressed on whether Obama would urge conservative Democrats to support an assault weapons ban, his spokesman responded: "Look, the president understands that these are tough issues. If they weren't, they would have been done. If this weren't a tough issue, the assault weapons ban would not have expired and not been renewed."

"The president as a senator and since he became president has always supported restoration of the assault weapons ban, and he strongly supports the legislation that Senator Feinstein is moving forward," Carney said, adding that none of the measures the White House proposed "would take a single firearm away from a single law-abiding American citizen" and are focused on "the things that we can do to reduce gun violence in America."

All of that, of course, doesn't say much about whether Obama would lobby the likes of Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, Montana Sen. Max Baucus or Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu -- all Democrats up for reelection in 2014 -- to vote for the assault weapons ban. Which means he almost certainly won't.

Feinstein, who was in an Senate Intelligence Committee meeting Thursday afternoon, could not be reached immediately for comment.

Juliet Eilperin is a White House correspondent for The Washington Post, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.
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