Dianne Feinstein

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejects Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban to keep it from jeopardizing the passage of more popular measures in Democrats’ gun legislation.

By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times
March 19, 2013, 7:40 p.m.

WASHINGTON — To advance a cause that has defined her political career, Sen. Dianne Feinstein brought the father of a child killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School to Capitol Hill, where he talked about the last time he saw his first-grader alive. She brought in police officers to press her case against her law-and-order opponents.

She made it personal, evoking the time she had sought a pulse on the wrist of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, shot seconds before, and found her fingers “in a bullet hole.” And she erupted in a rare display of public anger when a Republican senator questioned her understanding of the Constitution.

But on Tuesday, none of that was enough as the Senate majority leader, a fellow Democrat, excluded Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban from a broader gun package. Nevada Sen. Harry Reid said he made the move out of fear the Feinstein ban would jeopardize the passage of more popular measures.

“I’m not going to try to put something on the floor that won’t succeed,” Reid said.

That was the unofficial death knell, and brought Feinstein to a place she has been before. She suffered similar disappointment in 2004, when Congress allowed her 1994 assault weapons ban to expire.

The California senator would not publicly acknowledge defeat, vowing to continue to lobby colleagues as she brings the ban up as an amendment to the broader bill. She said she would also seek a vote to ban ammunition magazines that can accept more than 10 rounds.

“Obviously I’m disappointed,” she said. “I tried my best, but my best, I guess, wasn’t good enough.”

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