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WASHINGTON: Gun rights groups yesterday forecast that bids to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips would fail in Congress, as Vice- President Joe Biden prepares this week to give President Barack Obama proposals to curb gun violence.
Even some congressional Democrats indicated that a bill to revive the US assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 would have a difficult time winning passage in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Democratic-led Senate.
“An assault weapons stand-alone ban — on just guns alone ... in the political reality that we have today, will not go anywhere,” Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, himself a gun owner, told the CNN programme State of the Union.
National Rifle Association (NRA) President David Keene signalled little appetite for compromise as the White House mulls action on gun violence after the Decemebr 14 massacre of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school.
“What we put the brakes on is anything that simply takes away a person’s Second Amendment right for no good reason,” Keene told the CNN show, referring to the US Constitution’s guarantee of the right to bear arms.
“The likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through this Congress,” Keene said. Asked about new limits on high-capacity ammunition clips, he added: “I don’t think ultimately they are going to get that either.”
Biden, who heads a task force on gun violence due to give Obama recommendations as early as Tuesday, has said he will recommend universal background checks for gun buyers and new limits on the capacity of magazines like those used by the Connecticut gunman.
The White House also has said it will try to revive the US ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004 after being in effect for a decade. Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut are expected to introduce legislation on reviving the assault-weapons ban.
The gun control debate has been heating up since the Connecticut massacre. The issue even came up during the Miss America pageant on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Miss New York, Mallory Hytes Hagan, the eventual winner, was asked during the competition whether armed guards should be put in schools.
“I don’t think the proper way to fight violence is with violence,” Hagan said, indicating that she opposes the idea championed by the NRA after the Newtown massacre. The NRA has a long history of influence in Washington. It spends heavily on political races and says it has four million members. The group criticised the White House effort after meeting with Biden on Thursday.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Larry Pratt, executive director of another gun rights group, Gun Owners of America, said: “We don’t think that there is much likelihood that the Congress is going to move on making gun-control laws worse than they are.”