Udall, Bennet Vote Against Assault-Weapons Ban

Posted: April 18, 2013 in local news
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April 17, 2013

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WASHINGTON — Four months after hinting they would support a ban on semi-automatic weapons, Colorado’s two Democratic senators voted no on a legislative proposal designed to do just that.

“(I)t went too far because it would also have banned certain hunting rifles and even some shotguns,” Sen. Mark Udall said in a press release. “If this bill had been more carefully crafted to only ban weapons designed for the battlefields and keep them out of the hands of the criminals and the mentally ill, I would have supported it.”

Both Udall and Sen. Michael Bennet released statements after the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. that supported the idea of banning assault weapons. Yet neither senator formally endorsed legislation sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

The Feinstein measure sought to prohibit the sale, manufacture, transfer, and importation of more than 150 semi-automatic weapons. Rep. Ed. Perlmutter (D-Golden) is the sponsor of a companion version in the House.

Feinstein’s amendment was defeated 40-60. The legislation was unveiled at an emotional, elaborate press event in January, but proponents conceded that approving the measure through a Senate with many red-state Democrats up for re-election in 2014 was an uphill struggle.

An administration official said the White House did not expect the ban to pass, as AR-15s are the most popular rifle in the country. The official added that Vice-President Biden met for half an hour in the West Wing with Dan Baum, a Boulder resident and author of Gun Guys, a book on the popularity of the gun culture in rural America.

Udall’s statement referred to hunters and sportsmen, constituencies that are well organized.

Democrats had greater expectations for legislative proposals to limit magazine clips on rifles and impose universal background checks. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) who was shot in the head in January 2011 by a severely mentally ill college student, lobbied senators at the Capitol Tuesday and Wednesday. Yet those two proposals, as well as four others, went down to defeat.

Biden, who presided over the votes Wednesday in his role as President of the Senate, spoke to reporters after the background check measure did not garner enough votes to overcome a filibuster. Unsmiling and putting both hands in his pockets, he vowed that gun-control supporters would not relent.

“What this legislation shows is that the U.S. Senate is way behind the American people,” Biden said, referring to surveys that show significant public support for comprehensive background checks. “But this (fight) is far from over, far from over.”

Udall released a statement that criticized Republicans for failing to support “common-sense” legislation. “I am disappointed that my colleagues could not come together and support this bipartisan background check legislation to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from obtaining guns.”

While Democrats expressed dejection over the fate of the gun-control amendments, most Republicans expressed satisfaction at the defeat of the proposals.

When Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) was asked his opinion of Obama’s first major legislative foray in his second term, he gave a half smile. ”It’s not an auspicious beginning,” he said.

 

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