The 10-year-old federal ban on some assault-style weapons will expire Sept. 13 unless extended by Congress. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is unlikely to bring it to a vote. President George W. Bush has endorsed an extension but is not actively pushing Congress to take action. Knight-Ridder Newspapers says that “tensions are high on both sides.” Gun-control advocate Sarah Brady says, “It’s an uphill battle.” The National Rifle Association and allied groups call the ban a cosmetic restriction that deprives Americans of their Second Amendment right to bear arms and does little to curb crime. “I don’t think there is an appetite in Congress to extend this ban and wage a battle on the gun issue in a presidential election year,” said the NRA’s Andrew Arulanandam.
Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, calling himself a candidate with “the courage to stand up to the NRA,” has embraced an extension of the ban. Many congressional Democrats are skittish about attaching themselves to an issue that could backfire, said Robert Spitzer of the State University of New York at Cortland, author of “The Politics of Gun Control.” Polls have show that more than 60 percent of the public favors an assault weapons ban. An April survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, found that 71 percent of the public supports a continued ban, with 23 percent opposed. The International Association of Chiefs of Police favors reauthorizing the ban and even strengthening it.