WASHINGTON – Sixty-five House Democrats said Wednesday that they would oppose any attempt by the Obama administration to revive a ban on military-style weapons that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994 and President George W. Bush let expire.
The pro-gun Democrats, led by Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., wrote Attorney General Eric Holder that they would “actively oppose any effort to reinstate the 1994 ban, or to pass any similar law.”
They urged the administration to avoid a “long and divisive fight over a gun control issue” at a time when Washington needs to concentrate on the economic crisis.
The House letter came a day after Montana’s two Democratic senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, wrote a similar letter to Holder saying the Justice Department should enforce existing laws before considering new gun ownership restrictions. “We will strongly oppose any legislation that will infringe upon the rights of individual gun owners,” they said.
The letters came after Holder, during a news conference to announce the arrest of Mexican drug dealers, said the drug cartels were obtaining high-powered weapons like the AK-47 from U.S. gun stores and said the Obama administration supported reinstituting the ban on the sale of assault-style weapons.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has said she plans to introduce legislation to bring back the weapons ban. Feinstein was an author of the 1994 bill, which banned 19 types of semiautomatic, military-style guns. The law expired under the Bush administration in 2004. Another long-term goal is requiring that all gun shows conduct background checks before selling firearms.
The National Rifle Association has said it is mobilizing to stop any assault weapons ban, and the opposition of 65 House Democrats, many from rural or conservative districts with strong pro-gun sentiments, probably would doom any legislative drive to restrict gun ownership.
Already this year, Republicans have stalled legislation that would give the District of Columbia a voting representative in the House by linking the bill to a measure significantly weakening D.C.’s gun laws.
House Democratic leaders have put off a vote on the voting rights bill out of concern that pro-gun Democrats would oppose it if it is separated from the gun measure.
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