The prospects for congressional approval of an assault weapons ban appear to be even slimmer, now that Senate Democratic leaders are removing that provision from the firearms legislation the Senate will debate next month.

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Majority Leader Harry Reid says he wants to bring a gun bill to the Senate with enough support to overcome any Republican efforts to block debate. And he says he was concerned that opposition to the assault weapons ban would block passage of any bill at all. Many Democrats think a ban on large-capacity magazines has a better chance of getting 60 votes.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who sponsored the provision, says she's disappointed by the decision to remove it from the gun bill. Feinstein says she will now offer her ban on the military-style firearms as an amendment.

An assault-type weapon was used in the December massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut. Banning those types of firearms was among the proposals President Barack Obama made in January.

A separate vote on assault weapons might allow moderate Democratic senators who are facing re-election in Republican-leaning states to vote against the assault weapons measure but then support the remaining overall package of gun limits.


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