Don’t count the federal ban on certain assault-style weapons out yet. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) announced earlier this week that because of strong opposition in the House to extending the ban beyond its expiration next year, the issue wouldn’t even come up for a vote.
But Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said yesterday that House Republican leaders have not made a final decision. The Washington Post reports that Hastert said he wants to talk with President Bush, who supports extending the ban, before making a final call. “I am not ready to make that decision,” Hastert said.
Hastert stopped short of promising a vote, and two GOP leadership aides said they doubted one will take place.
The 1994 law that made it illegal to import, “manufacture, transfer or possess” 19 types of semiautomatic weapons. Unless extended, the law will expire on Sept. 13, 2004.
The final outcome may involve more politics than substance. Even if the law is unlikely to be extended, some members of Congress would like to force a vote to provide a campaign issue in House races where the 2004 vote is likely to be close.