An assault-weapons ban is now looking unlikely

March 19, 2013

Safe for now.

A quick update to the gun-control debate in Congress. It looks like the assault-weapons ban will die in the Senate, according to my colleagues Ed O'Keefe and Philip Rucker:

Reid told reporters Tuesday that the proposed assault weapons ban isn’t holding up against Senate rules requiring at least 60 votes to end debate and move to final passage.

The proposed ban, “using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes. That’s not 60,” Reid said.

Reid is, however, still planning to hold votes on three other gun-control items:

Still up for consideration are three other bills approved last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee: A bipartisan proposal to make gun trafficking a federal crime, a bipartisan bill to expand a Justice Department grant program that provides funding for school security, and a Democratic proposal to expand the nation’s gun background check program.

And it's still possible that a ban on high-capacity magazines could come up for a vote as an amendment to a larger gun package, though even that's still unclear. Sam Stein and Michael McAuliff have much more detail on this.

And, of course, these bills would still need to get through the Republican House...

Here's some background reading on gun policy:

--Back in January, Ezra Klein wondered if the gun debate would take exactly this turn. The assault-weapons ban would be sacrificed so that other gun-control items could move forward.

--Assault-weapons ban: Here's everything you need to know about the old ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that expired in 2004. And here's an in-depth look at Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposed update to the ban.

--Gun trafficking: A closer look at the bipartisan bill in Congress to crack down on gun trafficking. This could still well pass.

--Background checks: Here's a rundown of how Obama's proposal for universal background checks might work. Meanwhile, Congress has been debating whether the government should prosecute gun buyers who fail their background checks.

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Brad Plumer | March 19, 2013