The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a ban on the sale and manufacture of more than 150 types of semi-automatic weapons with military-style features Thursday in a party-line vote.
The 10-8 vote came after a heated exchange between Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who Feinstein scolded for giving her a “lecture” on the Constitution…
Some Democrats worry the controversial ban could sink a broader slate of gun laws if it is included. The alternative would be to consider it separately from legislation to expand background checks and to crack down on the illegal trafficking of firearms…
“The road is uphill,” she said. “I fully understand that.”
“It’s pretty clear the other side is locked in opposition [to assault weapons ban.] — [I] don’t see us getting 60 votes,” Whitehouse said, referring to the necessary bar to pass the Senate…
Cornyn … said the proposal would effectively ban “the majority of handguns” sold in the country because it prohibits the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. Cornyn offered several amendment to revise the Feinstein proposal, but they were defeated by Democrats.
“What’s happening here with all these amendments in effort to nip it and tuck it and create all these exceptions,” Feinstein said.
Cruz, though, returned to the idea that prohibiting particular guns was comparable to designating “particular individuals who are not protected by the Bill of Rights.” One wouldn’t mind a discussion of the Fourth Amendment (perhaps on the subject of drones) but that is quite a leap: the guns in one example have been replaced by people in the other. What Cruz is talking about is not a right to bear arms but the right of specific gun models to be borne. (Or, perhaps, from the point of view of the gun manufacturers, to be bought.) With that, he reveals a great deal about the Constitutional perspective of the pro-gun lobby.
The assault-weapon ban, for all the fighting, will likely not become law. It is what counts as utopian in this Congress, as sensible as it is. It’s been three months since the Newtown shooting, which left twenty children and seven adults dead. The question is whether the decisive moment in our debate about guns is behind us or ahead of us. On Tuesday, legislation that would bring about some small changes—expanding background checks, making it a crime to lie your way around gun laws—also made it out of the Judiciary Committee. No Republicans voted for the background-check measure, either, even though all it does is make it so that no one can buy those assault weapons from a registered gun dealer and then turn around and sell them in the parking lot to someone who can’t pass a background check. Still, universal background checks are thought to at least have a chance of getting through—a better one in the Senate than in the House, but a chance. So that is what this moment comes down to: getting one small, rational measure made into law before the fading of the outrage and the memory of twenty children who will never be sixth graders.
Just because someone revels in political power over the course of a lifetime does not make them wise or good stewards of the law, or demonstrate that they understand the limits on government power under our system. In fact, the longer many politicians remain in power, the less respect they evidently have for those constitutional limits. Feinstein evidently sees very few limits on her power to legislate. In the past she has admitted that she would ban all guns — doing away with the Second Amendment — if she could.
Democratic Sens. Leahy and Durbin get their backs up later in the video, which more than anything shows that they too don’t really understand the limits placed on them by the Constitution. Or they do understand them, but don’t care.
“In the end, Cruz overshot.” Click the image to watch.