This information provided by The Federal Observer, http://www.federalobserver.com
By Edward Epstein - San Francisco Chronicle
Ladies & gentlemen:
Well, well, well, let's see what our president is going to do about this-here federal assault weapons ban that comes up for renewal in September. It never accomplished a thing. It didn't reduce crime and it didn't reduce availability. We all got around the ten-round limit magazines, and no lives were saved by anyone shot or assaulted with a weapon limited to ten rounds anyway - as far as I know.
We can all collectively groan when we read Senator Diane Feinstein's stupid quote of the day:
"I am quite familiar with firearms. I became mayor as a product of assassination. I found my assassinated colleague (Milk) and put a finger through a bullet hole trying to get a pulse. Senator, I know something about what firearms can do."
If the bullet didn't kill Mr. Milk, the infection from sticking her finger in the bullet hole might very well have. The other fact of the case? Killer Dan White used a six-round revolver to do the job. Go figure why little Miss Feinstein wanted semi-automatic rifles banned!
I hereby nominate Senator Diane Feinstein as supreme jackass of the year. Do I hear a second?
Carl F. Worden
Washington - Sen. Dianne Feinstein and President Bush seem headed for a showdown over her effort to renew the federal assault weapons ban after the administration hedged Tuesday on a presidential pledge to support the renewal.
The semiautomatic assault weapons bill, which barely passed in 1994, stands as a legislative hallmark of Feinstein's 10 years in the Senate. It is due to expire in September 2004, unless Congress votes to reauthorize it and Bush signs the bill. In his 2000 presidential campaign, Bush came out for renewal and for an additional provision to ban the import of ammunition- feeding devices of 10 bullets or more.
Feinstein wants to renew the law and expand it to include more weapons, ban the ammunition imports and make it illegal for juveniles under age 21 to possess semiautomatic guns that were permitted under the 1994 law.
Feinstein asked Attorney General John Ashcroft at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday if the Bush administration would back the renewal.
"The administration supports the current ban," was as far as Ashcroft would go under repeated questioning from Feinstein and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who was the House sponsor of the 1994 legislation.
BAN'S UNCERTAIN EFFECT
Ashcroft said National Institute of Justice studies conducted in the 1990s showed the ban on semiautomatic weapons has had an uncertain effect. "We will continue to study the issue," he said, adding that the White House also hasn't yet taken a position on the ammunition or juvenile-possession issues.
Feinstein, who said she was profoundly disappointed by Ashcroft's answers, had met with the attorney general on Jan. 8 to try to line up White House support for the extension. She did not receive a reply until Tuesday.
"I was a bit nonplussed. They are well on record supporting extension," Feinstein said after a hearing at which Ashcroft appeared with FBI Director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
Feinstein, who said she will introduce her bill this week, warned the administration of trouble if the president changes his mind.
"I will hold him to his campaign promise, and I think the American people will hold him to it. I don't think there is any evidence that the American people want assault weapons on their streets," she said.
In fact, when Ashcroft was a Republican senator from Missouri, he introduced the legislation to ban juveniles from possessing assault weapons that were grandfathered in under the 1993 law. At his 2001 confirmation hearings for attorney general, Ashcroft said he and Bush supported renewing the assault weapons ban.
ASHCROFT BACKED EXTENSION
"It is my understanding that the president-elect of the United States has indicated his clear support for extending the assault weapons ban, and I will be pleased to move forward with that position," Ashcroft said in response to a question from Feinstein.
Gun control advocates wouldn't speculate why Bush seems to be hedging on Feinstein's proposal.
At the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, spokesman Rob Wilcox said that despite Ashcroft's answers on Tuesday, the group still hopes Bush will back the renewal of the assault weapons ban.
"Nothing he said made it seem like they won't do it," Wilcox said of Ashcroft's testimony. "We think there is room to work with them."
But the National Rifle Association, which wants the ban to die in 2004, said the law has been ineffective.
"Its intent was to curb crime. The study from the Clinton administration's own Justice Department showed it had no effect," said NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox.
"Some politicians are determined to play politics as they seek to renew and expand this ban," he added, referring to Feinstein.
Gun control advocates say the law, in conjunction with other measures, has cut gun violence.
Bush has generally said the country doesn't need more gun laws. He opposes state and local government lawsuits against gunmakers, but has said he wants mandatory child-proof safety locks on new guns.
ISSUE IMPORTANT TO FEINSTEIN
The weapons legislation remains important to Feinstein. A framed front page of The Chronicle from the day the Senate first passed the bill in November 1993 hangs in her outer office at the Hart Senate Building.
It was during debate over her proposal, which was an amendment to President Bill Clinton's anti-crime package, that Feinstein had a pointed exchange with Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, that boosted the reputation of the former San Francisco mayor who became chief executive in 1978 after Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were shot to death by ex-Supervisor Dan White.
"The gentlelady from California needs to become a little bit more familiar with firearms and their deadly characteristics," Craig admonished the freshman senator.
"I am quite familiar with firearms," Feinstein said. "I became mayor as a product of assassination. I found my assassinated colleague (Milk) and put a finger through a bullet hole trying to get a pulse.
"Senator, I know something about what firearms can do," she ended and sat down.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
E-mail Edward Epstein