Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) announced he plans to ask for a vote to ban AR-15s and similar firearms this morning.
Schumer said he would ask the Senate to pass an “assault weapons” ban on Wednesday morning. The ban, if enacted, could affect millions of Americans who own popular rifles and ammunition magazines. However, the legislation faces a likely-insurmountable uphill battle to become law.
While President Joe Biden supports a ban and has repeatedly called on Congress to pass one, the Republican-controlled House is exceedingly unlikely to take up, let alone pass, a new gun ban. Additionally, even though Democrats have a 51-vote majority in the Senate, they don’t yet have majority support for such a ban, nor is there any indication any Republican senators will join the effort.
Senator Schumer did not say which variation of the assault weapons ban he plans to bring to the floor. A version introduced by the late California Democrat Dianne Feinstein has just 45 sponsors. Three of the six Democrats who haven’t joined that bill announced a new plan to ban AR-15s last week that has yet to appear in the Congressional bill tracker but could conceivably garner support from all of the other bill’s sponsors, putting it at 48 votes.
However, none of the Democrats or moderate Republicans who aren’t already sponsoring an assault weapons ban have publicly expressed support for the Wednesday effort. Only Senator Jon Tester (D., Mont.) responded to a request for comment on the vote.
“As a proud gun-owner and strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Senator Tester opposes banning assault weapons and will always protect the rights of law-abiding Montana gun owners,” a spokesperson for Tester’s office told The Reload.
That leaves Senator Schumer’s attempt to pass a new assault weapons ban short of a majority and well short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
However, it’s unlikely America will see a vote count on the ban because Senator Schumer plans to advance it by asking for unanimous consent. That means an objection from a single senator will derail the plan. It also means Senators facing tough re-election campaigns in 2024 won’t be forced to take a definitive stand on the contentious proposal, which has polled at a near 50-50 split in recent years.