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WASHINGTON — To advance a cause that has defined her political career, Sen. Dianne Feinstein brought the father of a child killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School to Capitol Hill, where he talked about the last time he saw his first-grader alive. She brought in police officers to press her case against her law-and-order opponents.

assault weaponsShe made it personal, evoking the time she had sought a pulse on the wrist of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, shot seconds before, and found her fingers “in a bullet hole.” And she erupted in a rare display of public anger when a Republican senator questioned her understanding of the Constitution.

But on Tuesday, none of that was enough as the Senate majority leader, a fellow Democrat, excluded Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban from a broader gun package. Nevada Sen. Harry Reid said he made the move out of fear the Feinstein ban would jeopardize the passage of more popular measures.

“I’m not going to try to put something on the floor that won’t succeed,” Reid said.

That was the unofficial death knell, and brought Feinstein to a place she has been before. She suffered similar disappointment in 2004, when Congress allowed her 1994 assault weapons ban to expire.

The California senator would not publicly acknowledge defeat, vowing to continue to lobby colleagues as she brings the ban up as an amendment to the broader bill. She said she would also seek a vote to ban ammunition magazines that can accept more than 10 rounds.

“Obviously I’m disappointed,” she said. “I tried my best, but my best, I guess, wasn’t good enough.”

But there was a tinge of irritation as well. Citing public support for an assault weapons ban, she said, “You’d think the Congress would listen, but they clearly listen to the National Rifle Assn.

Feinstein’s measure would prohibit the sale, import and manufacture of more than 150 weapons — including the make of Bushmaster rifle used in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting — and also ban the larger ammunition magazines. People who legally own assault weapons — 3.5 million to 4 million such guns exist, by one estimate — would be allowed to keep them. To buy one of the existing weapons, buyers would have to undergo a background check.

Gun violence has propelled Feinstein’s political career. She became San Francisco mayor after Mayor George Moscone and Milk were shot to death at City Hall in 1978.

She pushed for the 1994 ban after a series of shootings, including a 1993 rampage in a San Francisco office building that left eight people dead and six wounded. She has become a favorite nemesis of the NRA, which has used her visage to raise money.

This time around, she spent weeks working to rally support for a new ban in the belief that the December school massacre would turn the debate. She pushed back against the notion that assault weapons should be allowed for hunting.

“Who is going to respect the hunter with a 30-round clip and an assault weapon going after a deer?” she asked at a recent hearing.

Republicans questioned whether the 1994 ban reduced gun violence, and contended that the new proposal would jeopardize the rights of law-abiding citizens. They called instead for better enforcement of existing gun laws and stronger efforts to keep guns away from people with mental illnesses.


WASHINGTON – A newly proposed  assault weapons legislation by Sen. Dianne Feinstein turned up the heat in Washington D.C. Thursday.

Feinstein presented her new gun control bill, flanked by family members and victims of gun violence.

Guns Turned Into Sheriff's The senator said after seeing her San Francisco co-worker, and friend supervisor Harvey Milk gunned down, “my view was changed for ever.”

The bill proposes to ban the sale, import and manufacture of 150 assault style weapons and ban magazines that carry more then 30 rounds of ammunition.

The legislation will save “thousands and thousands of lives,” said Feinstein.

The senator said she understands this will be an uphill battle. The White House has launched into a powerful campaign to assist Feinstein in banning assault weapons.

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San Diego Sheriff Gore reacts to Obama s speech about gun control.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed background checks on all gun sales and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as part of a package of steps to reduce gun violence in the wake of the Newtown school massacre last month.

With relatives of some of the 20 children killed in the Connecticut rampage looking on, Obama signed 23 executive actions that don’t require congressional approval that he said would strengthen background checks and expand safety programs in schools.

He also called on Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, to restrict ammunition magazines to no more than 10 rounds, and to require a background check on anyone buying a gun, whether at a store or in a private sale at an auction or convention.

Referring to the young students killed in the Newtown shootings on December 14 and other victims of gun violence, Obama said the nation must do a better job of protecting its children, especially when they are in public places such as schools, shopping malls and movie theaters.

While some of the steps he proposed are given little chance of winning congressional approval in the face of the nation’s powerful gun lobby, Obama said all efforts must be made to reduce chronic gun violence in the country.

“This is our first task as a society — keeping our children safe,” the president said, adding that saving even one life would make the changes he seeks worth the effort.

Already under fire by the National Rifle Association, which claims Obama seeks to violate the constitutional right for civilians to bear arms, the president said that wasn’t true.

“We can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale,” he said.

Obama proposed legislative steps he previously has backed, such as reinstating the Clinton-era ban on assault weapons, and also requested that funds be made available to help treat mental illness and provide schools with support to enhance their safety.

Vice President Joe Biden led a panel assembled by Obama to examine gun control steps after the Newtown shootings, which sparked a fierce public debate over how to prevent such mass killings.

“The world has changed, and it’s demanding action,” Biden said at Wednesday’s White House event.

Opponents led by the NRA promise a political fight, with an NRA spokesman saying Tuesday that the group has experienced what he called an “unprecedented” spike in membership numbers since new calls for gun control began in the past month.

Approximately 250,000 people have joined the organization’s existing 4.25 million members, according to NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam.

“This is in direct response to the threats and accusations coming from” Obama and other political leaders, Arulanandam said, adding that “if anyone is wondering if the American people cared about the Second Amendment … those numbers give a very clear answer.”

In addition, the NRA is receiving an influx of financial contributions, he said, adding: “This is going to be a very expensive and hard-fought fight.”

However, new polls show increased public support for stronger gun control measures,and Obama called for citizens to let their elected representatives know what they think.

“The only way we can change is if the American people demand it,” Obama said.

His executive actions signed Wednesday called for tougher enforcement of existing laws and required federal agencies to provide data for background checks.

Obama also said he would nominate B. Todd Jones, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to become its permanent chief. The agency has been without a full-time director for six years.

A main focus of Obama’s steps was closing loopholes in background checks. While requiring universal background checks would require congressional approval, some of the executive actions signed by Obama were intended to bolster the existing system.

Across the country, more than a million people failed background checks to buy guns during the past 14 years because of criminal records, drug use or mental health issues, according to FBI figures.

That figure, however, is a small fraction of overall gun sales.

Obama also called for more money to strengthen gun safety at schools, including hiring more counselors such as retired law enforcement officers to help educate students on gun issues. He also called for more funding for communities to hire more police officers, but stopped short of seeking the NRA’s proposal for armed guards at every school.

Legislators said working with Congress will be paramount in curbing gun violence. California Rep. Mike Thompson told CNN on Tuesday that a ban on high-capacity magazines could garner Republican support, but a full-scale assault weapon ban would be hard to get passed in the GOP-controlled House.

House and Senate committees said they would start holding hearings on gun control measures in coming weeks.

In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed into law a series of new gun regulations — the nation’s first since the Newtown shootings.

Both New York’s GOP-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled Assembly approved the measure by overwhelming margins.

It includes a statewide gun registry and adds a uniform licensing standard across the state, altering the current system, in which each county or municipality sets a standard.

Residents are also restricted to purchasing ammunition magazines that carry seven bullets, rather than 10.

“The changes in New York are largely cosmetic,” said CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, who described state’s existing regulations as “the toughest gun laws in the United States.”

Lawmakers in at least 10 other states are reviewing some form of new gun regulations in the new year.

SAN DIEGO – Nineteen executive orders are expected to be announced Wednesday by President Obama in a major push to curb gun violence.

“It’s time for reasonable gun control reform,” said San Diego Police Chief Willam Lansdown.

Lansdown said he was one of 60 chiefs across the country that weighed in on what could be done to slow US gun deaths that surpassed 31,000 in 2010.

lansdowne 2“Stricter back round checks, a ban on assault weapons, and a data base that tracks guns, needs to be the starting point,” he said. “My officers should never be out gunned, but sometimes that’s the sad realty.”

Gun advocates said with 300 million guns in the United States there is little that can be done.

“This talk of gun control has starred a frenzy of buying and it’s becoming difficult to keep product on the shelf,” said Andrew Romaro from The American Shooting Center. “There are already plenty of laws that regulate guns more restrictions will infringe on gun rights.”