Dianne Feinstein to hold her own gun hearing

Nicholas Johnson in Politico, January 29, 2013

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), unhappy with the witnesses slated to testify at Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing on guns, will hold her own hearing on her proposed ban on assault weapons.

“I’m concerned and registered my concern with Sen. [Patrick] Leahy yesterday, that the witnesses are skewed to the anti-gun, anti-assault weapons position,” Feinstein told POLITICO. “He agreed that I would be able to do my own hearing on the assault weapons legislation which I will proceed to do.”

Wednesday’s witnesses include NRA President Wayne La Pierre; Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, Nicholas Johnson, law professor at Fordham University School of Law; James Johnson, chief of police for Baltimore County; Gayle Trotter, general counsel of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum.

Feinstein said she has not yet set a date for the hearing.

She remains confident that her proposed ban on assault weapons has the support needed to clear the committee.

“I believe we have the votes on the Democratic side to pass out the bill,” Feinstein said.

Feinstein filed a bill last week to install a new ban on assault weapons stricter than the previous ban that expired in 2004. It is part of a series of bills filed last week as part of the package of proposals President Barack Obama outlined in response to the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

She has acknowledged that getting the legislation passed will be an uphill climb.

Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee, hasn’t offered an endorsement of the proposal. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has warned that it will be difficult to get the ban through the Senate.

The legislation faces even worse odds in the Republican-controlled House.