Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid set the stage for the first big vote on gun control legislation since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. The Nevada Democrat filed cloture on gun control legislation to bring the debate to the Senate floor on Thursday.
At least 14 Republican senators have threatened to filibuster the legislation, which could put the brakes on advancing new gun control laws. That number includes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who in an unprecedented move, announced he would join in–something party leaders very rarely do.
Reid plans to push ahead despite procedural roadblocks courtesy of the GOP, issuing an “alert” to fellow lawmakers. “If they don’t help me invoke cloture on this bill, we’re going to vote on these things anyway. It might take a little time,” said Reid. “As I’ve said for months now, the American people deserve a vote: on background checks, on federal trafficking, on safety in schools, on the size of clips and yes, assault weapons.”
The Obama administration continues to fight to gain bipartisan support for new gun measures to expand background checks for people buying guns and ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is leading the charge to revive a ban on military-style assault weapons, told msnbc that she plans to offer assault weapons bill as an amendment and remains optimistic.
“I have a commitment from the majority leader that I will have a vote and I take him at his word,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein told msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Tuesday. “What’s important to me is to dry up the supply of these weapons so that over time they are less apt to fall in the hands of grievance killers, juveniles, people who are mentally disabled and criminals.”
Last month, Reid dropped the controversial restriction on military-style weapons from the bill in order, he said, to save the larger piece of gun reform legislation.
Feinstein said lawmakers must press on: “It’s important to the nation to know where people stand on a matter that’s as important as this.”
The California Democrat helped get the 1994 ban on assault weapons enacted into law nearly 20 years ago by pushing them as amendments on the Senate floor.