One more up for the NRA


Chalk another one up to the NRA. No surprise there. President Barack Obama may have made the ban on military assault weapons a priority of his second term, but, deferring to supporters of the National Rifle Association in the Senate, the Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid has decided to drop the proposal from a bill to be debated next month.

Although the measure won the support of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Reid argues that its inclusion will simply trigger a Republican fillibuster and, with less than 40 backers in the 100-strong, majority-Democrat chamber has no prospect of success. Also biting the dust will be a proposal to limit on gun magazine sizes.

Understandably Dianne Feinstein, the assault weapon ban’s sponsor and a strong advocate for gun control, is deeply upset . Thirty five years ago the Democratic senator discovered the bullet-riddled body of gay activist and fellow San Francisco council member, Harvey Milk. She recalled last week at the committee looking for his pulse, and in the process “putting my fingers in a bullet hole”.

Senate Democrats plan to introduce after the Easter recess a bill widely supported by both parties that would increase the penalties for people who buy guns for those barred from having them, known as straw purchasing. Reid may also include in it a grant programme for school security; and enhanced background checks for gun buyers. But it’s hardly what might be called a substantive step towards gun control.

Supporters of the assault weapon ban and of limits on magazine sizes will now only be able to introduce them as amendments from the floor, largely seen as a futile gesture. It seems that memories fade all too fast – parents and friends of the of the 27 who died at Sandy Hook primary school as recently as December please note.