The federal law banning the sale of 19 kinds of assault-style weapons seems certain to expire on Monday, despite a last-minute appeal by law enforcement leaders and crime victims. The New York Times says that efforts to renew the ban, which polls show is supported by at least two-thirds of Americans, have faltered. Democrats lost control of the House in 1994 partly because they supported the legislation, which Republicans and the National Rifle Association oppose. “I think the will of the American people is consistent with letting it expire, so it will expire,” said Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader. The House majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, dismissed the ban as “a feel-good piece of legislation” and said that it would expire Monday, even if President Bush made an effort to renew it.
Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, who was a lead sponsor of the ban 10 years ago when he was in the House, blamed “a dysfunction of our politics” for what he called “this Alice in Wonderland situation of repealing a law that everyone agrees has been overwhelmingly successful.” The act prohibits the sale of 19 specific weapons that have the features of guns used by the military, and also outlaws magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Backers admit that the law is riddled with loopholes, but they cite federal statistics showing crimes traceable to assault weapons have declined by two-thirds since the law went into effect.