Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been taking some heat from his base after dropping the the controversial assault weapons ban from the legislative package of gun control measures he plans to bring to the Senate floor.
In a statement late Thursday, the Senator's office confirmed those reports but offered an explanation. Reid released this statement obtained by NBC News's Mike Viquiera:
"Later tonight, I will start the process of bringing a bill to reduce gun violence to the Senate floor. This bill will include the provisions on background checks, school safety and gun trafficking reported by the Judiciary Committee. I hope negotiations will continue over the upcoming break to reach a bipartisan compromise on background checks, and I am hopeful that they will succeed. If a compromise is reached, I am open to including it in the base bill. But I want to be clear: in order to be effective, any bill that passes the Senate must include background checks.“The bill I advance tonight will serve as the basis for opening debate. Once debate begins, I will ensure that a ban on assault weapons, limits to high-capacity magazines, and mental health provisions receive votes, along with other amendments. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for all of these provisions to receive votes, and I will ensure that they do.”
It is that second paragraph that is so critical in explaining why an assault weapons ban is not a legislative impossibility. In his latest Rewrite segment, msnbc's Lawrence O'Donnell said, "There was going to be a vote on the assault weapons ban on the Senate floor whether Harry Reid included it or not. What we know now is that vote will be up to Dianne Feinstein. If she offers it on the Senate floor (as an amendment) and fights for it, there's a chance -- there's always a chance it could pass."
O'Donnell said it will take voters calling and emailing their senators to encourage them to stand with Senator Feinstein. O'Donnell encouraged Twitter users to use the hashtag #StandWithDianne.
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