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A new-old mission for Feinstein

She was the principal sponsor of the gun control law that died in 2004. Even after the rampage in Tucson, going back to that standard may be difficult.

January 16, 2011|By Cathleen Decker, Los Angeles Times

Some Democrats have joined with Republicans in opposition to new restrictions. Others said they would seek changes. Sen. Barbara Boxer, at a press conference last week, endorsed an effort by New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg and others to renew the ban on extended clips. Feinstein said Friday that she had talked to Boxer and would soon talk to other senators. (Feinstein has not returned to Washington since undergoing knee replacement surgery on Jan. 5.)

The size of the clips mattered in Arizona; according to accounts of the crime, citizens at Giffords' event were able to pin him down only after he ran out of ammunition after 31 shots and tried to reload.

"This particular incident really points out the importance of these very big clips," Feinstein said. "What I call the big guns, the semi-automatics, fire very fast. And if you have let's say 30 bullets, no one can get to you to disarm you." Had there been only 10 shots before he had to reload, she implied, the carnage would have been diminished.

But pressing gun restrictions in past decades depended on law enforcement support, enthusiasm among voters and political will. The cops may still be up for a fight, but public passion has ebbed, and there seems to be little desire among politicians to resurrect the issue.

"It's a very hard battle now," Feinstein acknowledged.

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