President Obama and top White House aides have all but abandoned the assault-weapon issue, Newsweek reports. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel helped orchestrate passage of the assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004 when he worked in the Clinton White House. Now he and other strategists have decided they can’t afford to tangle with the National Rifle Association at a time when they’re pushing other priorities, like economic renewal and health-care reform, say congressional officials who have raised the matter. “The Democratic Party understands this is a losing issue  It’s a dead loser,” says Rep. Dan Boren [D-OK]. “Its one of the reasons they lost the Congress in 1994 and Al Gore was not elected president in 2000.”
After Richard Poplawski killed three Pittsburgh police officers and used an AK-47 and other guns to engage police in a standoff, national political leaders did not raise troubling questions about how such an unstable character could obtain easy access to high-powered weapons. Past champions of stricter gun control are silent even though Mexico’s violent drug cartels are arming themselves with high-powered assault weapons purchased at U.S. gun stores and smuggled south of the border. When he ran for president, Obama promised to restore a federal ban on certain semiautomatic assault guns–a position still on the White House Web site. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has also lifted virtually all restrictions on imports of foreign-made assault weapons, permitting a flood of cheap Romanian, Bulgarian and other Eastern European AK-47s to enter the country, according to gun-control groups. “There’s been an absolute deluge of these weapons,” says Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center.