This afternoon The Hill's Alexander Bolton and Jonathan Easley opened their story "Reid guts Senate gun control bill," with the Nevada Democrat's admission that Sen. Dianne Feinstein's assault weapons ban has at most 40 votes, while 51 are needed for passage and 60 to end cloture. Democrats, you may recall, control 55 seats in the upper chamber of Congress, including the two held by left-leaning independents. This admission shows just how unwilling red-state Democrats are to sign on to an assault weapons ban, especially one that most certainly go down in flames in the Republican-controlled House.
But in reporting the same development, the AP's Alan Fram waited until the fifth paragraph to get to the cold, hard truth that Senate Democrats are gun-shy on pushing a new weapons ban:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- All but ending chances for an assault weapons ban, Democratic leaders said Tuesday the firearms legislation the Senate will debate next month won't include the provision that gun-control advocates pressed for after an assault-type weapon was used in the Newtown school shootings in December.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he wanted to bring a gun bill to the full Senate that would have enough support to overcome any GOP attempts to prevent debate from even starting. He expressed concern that including the assault weapons provision might effectively block passage of any bill at all.
Instead, the sponsor of the provision, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, said she will offer her ban on the military-style firearms as an amendment. But Feinstein is all but certain to need 60 votes from the 100-member Senate to prevail, and she faces solid Republican opposition as well as likely defections from some Democrats.
"I very much regret it," Feinstein, D-Calif., told reporters of Reid's decision. "I tried my best."
Reid said that "using the most optimistic numbers," there were less than 40 votes for Feinstein's ban. That is far less than the 60 needed to begin considering legislation.
"I'm not going to try to put something on the floor that won't succeed. I want something that will succeed. I think the worst of all worlds would be to bring to something to the floor and it dies there," Reid said.
Feinstein, an author of the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired after a decade, said that Reid told her of the decision on Monday.
In his State of the Union Address this February President Obama said that Newtown families "deserve a vote," on new gun control laws even if the outcome is in the negative:
In the final moments of his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Barack Obama pivoted from a policy-heavy political speech to an emotional plea for lawmakers to at least vote on reforms to the nation’s gun laws.
Highlighting the victims of gun violence and their surviving family, Obama repeated the phrase “they deserve a vote” on stricter gun control measures aimed to prevent further mass shootings like the ones that have ravaged the country in recent months.
"Gabby Giffords deserves a vote," he said, referring to the former Arizona congresswoman recovering from a gunshot wound to the head.
"The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence — they deserve a simple vote.”
“If you want to vote no, that's your choice,” said Obama. “But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.”
It's hard to imagine that it's conservative Republicans who are the obstacle to an assault weapons ban coming to the Senate floor. Why filibuster a vote you know you're going to win, what with Reid's admission that there's only about 40 votes for passage?
Nevertheless, to the extent the liberal media will grouse about this development, look for them to blame anyone but Reid and Senate Democrats. Attacking the GOP and the NRA is far more convenient for the narrative the media prefers to tell.