HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The prospects for congressional approval of an assault weapons ban appear to be even slimmer, now that Senate Democratic leaders are removing that provision from the firearms legislation the Senate will debate next month.
Majority Leader Harry Reid says he wants to bring a gun bill to the Senate with enough support to overcome any Republican efforts to block debate. And he says he was concerned that opposition to the assault weapons ban would block passage of any bill at all. Many Democrats think a ban on large-capacity magazines has a better chance of getting 60 votes.
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who sponsored the provision, says she’s disappointed by the decision to remove it from the gun bill. Feinstein says she will now offer her ban on the military-style firearms as an amendment.
Even that amendment is unlikely to pass because it would require bipartisan support, Conn. Sen. Chris Murphy said.
“It’s still not clear whether the Republicans are willing to break with the gun lobby on anything,” Sen. Murphy told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau. “There’s a piece of the assault weapons ban that could survive. I’m working very hard on trying to come up with a version of a ban on high-capacity magazines that can get 60 votes. But, again, I need a handful of Republicans who will support it.”
Murphy notes neighboring New York has already passed tough gun laws.
“If New York has a ban on high-capacity magazines and Connecticut doesn’t then you’re going to have all these people just coming over from New York City to buy their 30-round clips in Connecticut and I’m not sure that that’s what our state wants to become,” Murphy told Schneidau.
An assault-type weapon was used in the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that left 20 first graders and six educators dead. Banning those types of firearms was among the proposals President Barack Obama made in January.
On Tuesday, members of the Conn. General Assembly’s Public Safety and Security Committee approved bills that would require criminal background checks for all private firearm sales and toughen the rules against carrying a loaded weapon while intoxicated, lowering the threshold for drunkenness.
The committee also voted to require local authorities to issue permits for gun shows in their communities.
Murphy said he applauds statewide efforts in Connecticut to pass tougher gun laws, but adds Congressional action is the only way to make gun control truly effective.
The federal assault weapons ban was allowed to expire in 2004.
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