The Senate Judiciary Committee session on gun legislation yesterday was “a four-hour hearing marked by a distinct lack of drama, fighting or a conclusion,” Politico reports. “Neither side seemed like it was playing to win. For Republicans, especially, this was a hearing to survive. No YouTube moments or arguments” with witnesses like former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Az.) or her husband, Mark Kelly.
For Democrats, this was about avoiding unforced errors and not doing anything that would stall whatever momentum there is for action on gun control. Senators were careful to avoid saying anything that could be seen as insulting the victims of gun violence. Time after time, the senators and witnesses seemed to back down from confrontation. Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) wants a bill ready by the end of February. It won’t likely include reviving a federal ban on assault weapons, which Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) will propose as a floor amendment. Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will not move a bill through the Senate that cannot get House support. It’s unlikely the House will back an assault weapon ban.