Despite Democratic leaders’ demand for ‘assault weapons’ ban, Senate Dems unlikely to press issue

Democratic leaders like President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), have been loudly demanding strict new gun control laws, including a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” after a pair of tragic and high-profile mass shootings in New York and Texas.

Yet, while the Democrat-controlled House is pressing forward with that and several other gun control measures, the situation is a bit different in the evenly split Senate where an “assault weapons” ban is highly unlikely to pass, The Hill reported.

The reticence of some Senate Democratic incumbents and candidates is almost certainly due to the political reality that a ban on so-called “assault weapons” — such as AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles — is hugely unpopular in certain parts of the country and support for such a measure could cost them an election.

Biden wants to ban guns again

In the immediate aftermath of a terrible school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, President Biden delivered a speech in which he referenced the 1994 assault weapons ban he helped pass — it was later allowed to expire in 2004 — and insisted such a ban be immediately renewed.

Several days later, while speaking to reporters after visiting with survivors and the families of victims of that massacre, Biden again reiterated his deep desire and motivation for imposing another “assault weapons” ban on the American people.

“I know that it makes no sense to be able to purchase something that can fire up to 300 rounds. I know it makes — and I know what happened when we had rational action before, back in — when the crime bill was — the law that got passed. It did significantly cut down mass murders,” he said. “And so there’s only one reason for something that can fire, you know, 100 shots.”

Later, asked if he felt a “responsibility” to impose more gun control laws, Biden alluded to the need for Congress to act and said, “Oh, I know I have it, but I — but there’s a Constitution. I can’t dictate this stuff. I can do the things that I’ve done. And any executive action I can take, I’ll continue to take. But I can’t outlaw a weapon. I can’t, you know, change the background checks. I can’t do that.”

Harris and Pelosi call for “assault weapons” ban

President Biden is certainly not alone among Democratic leaders in demanding an “assault weapons” ban, as Vice President Harris has arguably been even more outspoken on the topic, particularly when she spoke with reporters after attending the funeral of a victim of a terrible mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, a couple of weeks ago.

“On the issue of gun violence, I will say as I said countless times: We are not sitting around waiting to figure out what the solution looks like,” Harris said. “We know what works on this. It includes: Let’s have an assault weapons ban. You know what an assault weapon is? You know how an assault weapon was designed? It was designed for a specific purpose: to kill a lot of human beings quickly. An assault weapon is a weapon of war with no place — no place in a civil society.”

Then there is Speaker Pelosi, who on Thursday issued a letter to her House Democrat colleagues outlining her upcoming agenda on a host of gun control measures, including a ban on “assault weapons.”

Reality intrudes on Democratic desires to ban guns

However, The Hill noted that while some Senate Democrat incumbents and candidates have joined the chorus of voices demanding severe restrictions on the nation’s most popular style of semi-automatic rifles, many others have tried to avoid the issue or expressed tentative support for more limited restrictions short of a complete ban.

That is undoubtedly in recognition of opposition from their own constituents, recollections of how Democrats were electorally walloped after the 1994 ban was imposed, and the reality that a renewed ban will go nowhere without getting the support of at least 10 Republicans — an all but impossible task that should effectively end the entire pipe dream right now.

Latest News