Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday he plans to bring to the floor legislation to resurrect the nation’s assault weapons ban, which expired nearly 20 years ago.
Schumer’s push to pass the bill might charitably be described as a Hail Mary: Democrats hold a 51-to-49 advantage in the Senate, and far more modest gun safety efforts have run aground in the chamber and in the Republican-ruled House.
Schumer, a Brooklyn Democrat, plans to ask Wednesday for unanimous consent — a procedure that allows for approval of a bill without a formal vote — to pass the ban, according to his office, a request that is very likely to be rejected by at least one Republican.
But Schumer and President Biden have kept an assault weapons ban at the top of their gun control wish list.
And Schumer said the time was ripe to reintroduce the concept. The U.S. has logged more than 600 mass shootings this year, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. New York had more than a dozen, Schumer’s office said.
There are “more mass shootings this year than days of the year,” Schumer said bluntly. He acknowledged he is playing a long game on guns, but said bringing the ban back to the Senate floor would “bring attention to the issue.”
“The people who are against it don’t want it to be known that they’re against it,” Schumer told the Daily News.
The legislation would ban the sale and production of 205 variations of military-style assault weapons, but would not force legal owners who already have the guns to give them up, according to Schumer’s office.
A generation ago, Democrats passed legislation, written by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, that banned the manufacture of some assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
The ban lasted from 1994 to 2004.
“The assault weapons ban works and saves lives,” Schumer said Tuesday. “People want action, and they want the assault weapons ban again. The American people are tired of fearing for their lives.”