Sen. Dianne Feinstein tells CBS no--well, not yet:
Asked by [60 Minutes's Lesley] Stahl if trying to renew the assault weapons ban would start a culture war and pose a distraction for an already overburdened Obama Administration, Feinstein replies, "I agree with you." "So you are going to hold off?" asks Stahl. "That's correct. I'll pick the time and the place, no question about it," Feinstein tells Stahl.
But even if she pursued the renewal, the votes may not be there today in either the Senate or the House. Both Houses of Congress gained pro-gun Democrats this past election, some of whom won the support of the National Rifle Association. "I am not going to disagree with that at all," says Feinstein. "The National Rifle Association essentially has a stranglehold on the Congress."
Has Congressional leadership or anyone from the Obama administration influenced her decision to put off the fight for renewal of the assault weapons ban? "No. Nobody said a word to me," Feinstein tells Stahl.
Feinstein's fear of the gun issue--despite her shout-out-to-the-choir promise that she'll get those ol' gun rights varmints when the time is right--is warranted. And while the assault weapon ban was not specifically at issue, Gallup Polls have found recently support for gun control at an all-time low:
...only 29% of Americans said the possession of handguns by private citizens should be banned in the United States. While similar to the 30% recorded in 2007, the latest reading is the smallest percentage favoring a handgun ban since Gallup first polled on this nearly 50 years ago...
Separately, the October Crime survey found just under half of Americans, 49%, wanting the laws covering the sale of firearms to be made stricter than they are now. This is the lowest percentage favoring stricter gun laws in Gallup trends since the question was first asked in 1990.
I wrote back in January on why I thought the Democrats in Congress would likely be unwilling to make expanding federal gun control efforts a big priority. [Hat tip on the links: Dan Gifford]