Do Your Senators Support an Assault Weapons Ban?

Some of the answers may surprise you.

| Tue Dec. 18, 2012 10:53 AM EST

Barely 48 hours after the Newtown massacre, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced that she'd introduce "a bill to ban assault weapons" on day one of the next congressional session. "It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation, and the possession," she said on Meet the Press. "And it will ban the same for big clips, drums, or strips of more than 10 bullets."

So far, only a few of her colleagues have dared to weigh in. But all of them will be under pressure to do so, and Mother Jones is tracking all of their responses—99 sitting senators*, 12 members-elect, and one member-designate.

  • Number of senators who support a ban (as of December 19): 30
  • Number of senators who might support a ban: 7
  • Number of senators who oppose a ban: 9
  • Number of senators (and senators-elect) who haven't commented yet: 66

Here is a look at the senators who have responded so far (as of 10 a.m. EST, December 19): 

IN FAVOR

Name: Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Small suprise. He's opposed gun locks, among other limits, in the past.

Comment: "We have much more violence perpetrated with guns in our society...because we don’t have any reasonable regulation of acquisition of guns."

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Nil. Newtown is his backyard, and he's never so much as opened the NRA's mail.

Comment: "I think that is practical and feasible, especially with the kind of change in debate that I would anticipate."

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Nil. She went after lax gun laws in the aftermath of Giffords' shooting.

Comment: "This touches us all so deeply, and it is long past time that we enacted sensible gun laws and school safety legislation."

How long response took after Newtown: 2 days 

 

Name: Scott Brown (R-Mass.)

For the ban? YES

Shock factor? Whoa, really? Big flop-flop from a guy who lost his seat (and may want another).

Comment: "What happened in Newtown where those children were subject to that level of violence is beyond my comprehension." 

How long response took after Newtown: 5 days 

 

Name: Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)

For the ban? YES

Shock factor? Nil. The NRA's anti-Brown site is…extensive.

Comment: "[N]one of us is powerless. It’s past time that we start a sensible dialogue about gun safety in our communities." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)

For the ban? YES

Shock factor? Nil. She helped move the original Brady Bill.

Comment: "All Washingtonians—and all Americansgrieve for the senseless loss of innocent lives and for the community of Newtown." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Ben Cardin (D-Md.)

For the ban? YES

Shock factor? Nil. He's a consistent supporter of gun control measures.

Comment: "We need to take action, Congress needs to take action to protect the lives of our children." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Nil. He actually gets an F-minus from the far-right Gun Owners of America.

Comment: "High capacity ammo clips, military assault weapons and body armor…that is way beyond any Second Amendment right."

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)  

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Nil. Feinstein has long led the fight against exotic guns.

Comment: "These weapons are not for hunting deer—they're for hunting people."

How long response took after Newtown: 2 days 

 

Name: Al Franken (D-Minn.)

For the ban? PROBABLY

Shock factor? Nil. He's worked to ban high-capacity ammo magazines.

Comment: "I'll be carefully considering what more we can to do help prevent acts of violence like this in the future." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Small surprise: As an upstate member of Congress, she was pro-gun—though now she gets a 0 percent NRA rating.

Comment: Congress "has ducked a serious national debate over commonsense gun laws for too long."

How long response took after Newtown: 2 days 

 

Name: John Kerry (D-Mass.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Nil. He a very liberal gun owner.

Comment: "If the horror of what happened in Newtown isn't a wakeup call sufficient to stiffen some spines in Congress, I don't know what is."

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Angus King (Sen.-Elect, I-Maine)

For the ban? YES

Shock factor? Small surprise. A true independent, he favors gun control but has "kept every promise to sportsmen."

Comment: "[I]t is time to take a close look at two gun-related issues—assault weapons and large ammunition magazines." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

For the ban? YES

Shock factor? Nil. She was tough on guns as a county prosecutor, too.

Comment: "I have long supported reauthorizing the 1994 assault weapons ban, as well as other efforts to promote gun safety." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)

For the ban? YES

Shock factor? Nil. He's vowed to revive a ban on big ammo clips.

Comment: "Americans are sick and tired…of nothing being done in Washington to stop the bloodshed." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Nil. He gets a lifetime "F" from the NRA.

Comment: "I think we ought to restore that assault weapons ban."

How long response took after Newtown: 2 days 

 

Name: Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Whoa, really?! An NRA life member, he once used a gun to shoot at environmental regulations in a campaign ad. 

Comment: "Seeing the massacre of so many innocent children has changed everything. Everything has to be on the table."

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)

For the ban? YES

Shock factor? Whoa, really? Coming off a tight win in a red state?

Comment: Spokesman:"Claire supports an assault weapons ban, and wants to take a hard look at the number of rounds in magazines." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Nil. He decried the lack of federal gun regulations in the aftermath of the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting.

Comment: "Let Newtown finally be the turning point when we are all willing to come together to do what is right." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Nil: She's a longtime gun control advocate.

Comment: "This is a wake-up call. Weapons of war have no place on the streets of America. It's time for Congress to act."

How long response took after Newtown: same day

 

Name: Chris Murphy (Sen.-Elect, D-Conn.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Nil, under the circumstances: He currently represents Newtown in Congress.

Comment: "[S]aying that we can't talk about the policy implications of tragedies like this is over."

How long response took after Newtown: 2 days 

 

Name: Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

For the ban? YES

Shock factor? Nil. She's proposed millions in taxes on ammo.

Comment: Spokesman: She's "repeatedly voted for an assault weapons ban and will do so again as soon as we can get a bill to the Senate floor." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? A slight surprise: Nelson's an old-school Blue Dog Dem in a gun-happy state.

Comment: Spokesman: "[H]e's voted to ban weapons like AK-47s because he believes they're meant for killing, not for hunting."

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Nil: a consistent supporter of tighter gun laws.

Comment: "Congress needs to work together to do everything we can to prevent this type of recurring violence."

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)

For the ban? YES

Shock factor? Small surprise. He supported the '94 bill, but his state is redder now.

Comment: "I'm pushing for that action now before we have to mourn more innocent lives lost." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)  

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Nil. He's long opposed free and easy firearms.

Comment: "I believe you can be pro-gun and pro-gun-safety, just like you can be in favor of free speech but also against child pornography."

How long response took after Newtown: 2 days 

 

Name: Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)

For the ban? YES

Shock factor? Whoa, really? Previously, she'd voted to allow guns on national parks and Amtrak trains.

Comment: "[I]t's time for elected leaders to come together and determine what we can do to help end the culture of violence."

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Mark Warner (D-Va.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Whoa, really?! That's a risky stance in Virginia. Especially for Warner, who's earned an A from the NRA.

Comment: "I've got three daughters. They asked me on Friday evening, 'Dad, what are you gonna do about this?'"

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Elizabeth Warren (Sen.-Elect, D-Mass.)

For the ban? YES

Shock factor? Nil. She's fulfilling a campaign promise.

Comment: "As with other epidemics, we must do everything we can to make a difference for people through prevention and treatment."

How long response took after Newtown: 5 days 

 

Name: Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

For the ban? YES 

Shock factor? Nil: See above. Whitehouse issued a statement similar to his Rhode Island colleague's.

Comment: "No parent should ever have to face such tragedy."

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

MAYBE

Name: Robert Casey (D-Penn.)

For the ban? MAYBE

Shock factor? Small surprise. He's a conservative Dem with high NRA approvals.

Comment: Vows to pursue "a comprehensive strategy that acknowledges all of the factors that contributed to this tragedy." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Joe Donnelly (Sen.-Elect, D-Ind.)

For the ban? MAYBE

Shock factor? Small surprise. He tacked pretty far right to squeak out his win last month.

Comment: "You know, I'm a dad too…and I think we have a responsibility to make sure this never happens again." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)

For the ban? MAYBE

Shock factor? Not much. He's a compromise-seeking moderate.

Comment: "[W]e need to ask whether people need unlimited access to any arms, including those capable of shooting hundreds of bullets in a very short time." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Martin Heinrich (Sen.-Elect, D-N.M.)

For the ban? MAYBE

Shock factor? Small surprise. He's a proven pro-gun sportsman.

Comment: "I don't need a 25-round clip for effective home defense, and I sure don't need one for hunting." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)

For the ban? MAYBE 

Shock factor? Whoa, really? Up for reelection in a gun-heavy state in 2014.

Comment: "[T]ragedy will certainly force us as a country to have a discussion about our gun laws, as well as our mental health system."

How long response took after Newtown: 4 days 

 

Name: Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

For the ban? MAYBE

Shock factor? Whoa, really? He gets a B from the NRA.

Comment: "[W]e'll engage in a meaningful conversation and thoughtful debate about how to change laws and culture that allow violence to grow." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Tom Udall (D-N.M.)

For the ban? MAYBE

Shock factor? Small surprise. He opposed it previously.

Comment: "Every idea must be on the table and I will carefully consider any reasonable legislation proposed in Congress that is crafted to help prevent future tragedies" 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

OPPOSED

Name: Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

For the ban? PROBABLY NOT

Shock factor? Nil. A solid pro-gun conservative.

Comment: He told a local paper: "The problem is not with the gun but with the person pulling the trigger." 

How long response took after Newtown: 4 days 

 

Name: Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)

For the ban? PROBABLY NOT

Shock factor? Nil. She fought an extension of the '94 ban.

Comment: Spokesman: "[D]enying the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens will not change the behavior of those intent on using firearms to commit horrific crimes." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

For the ban? NO

Shock factor? Nil. He's a gun lobby favorite.

Comment: "I'm sure I would vote against anything that impacts, in a negative way, the Second Amendment." 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)

For the ban? NO

Shock factor? Nil. Here he is shooting poorly, if enthusiastically.

Comment: "I continue to disagree that increased gun control is going to resolve the issues of violence that we have in our society." 

How long response took after Newtown: 4 days 

 

Name: Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.)

For the ban? NO

Shock factor? Nil. He's one of the most conservative senators around.

Comment: He's "not convinced that more gun laws and restrictions are going to provide the security" the country is looking for. 

How long response took after Newtown: 3 days 

 

Name: Rob Portman (R-Ohio)

For the ban? PROBABLY NOT

Shock factor? Nil. He opposed the '94 ban, too.

Comment: Told the Columbus Dispatch that he didn't think a ban "will solve the problem, unfortunately." 

How long response took after Newtown: 4 days 

 

Name: Jim Risch (R-Idaho)

For the ban? PROBABLY NOT

Shock factor? Nil. He's called shooting grizzly bears "common sense."

Comment: Through a spokesperson, he said: "[W]hen emotions are this high, now is not the time to make policy." 

How long response took after Newtown: 4 days 

 

Name: Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

For the ban? MAYBE PROBABLY NOT 

Shock factor? Nil. He's a tea party/NRA darling.

Comment: After days of soft statements, he expressed skepticism about regulating guns: "This is not a policy position. This is in the Constitution of the United States, which I did not write."

How long response took after Newtown: 4 days 

 

Name: Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

For the ban? NO

Shock factor? Nil. He never met a Second Amendment argument he didn't like.

Comment: An assault weapons ban? "We've seen that movie before and it's sad." 

How long response took after Newtown: 4 days 

Advertise on MotherJones.com

MISSING IN ACTION:

Akaka, Daniel (D-Hawaii): ?

Baldwin, Tammy (Sen.-Elect, D-Wis.): ?

Barrasso, John (R-Wy.): ?

Baucus, Max (D-Mont.): ?

Begich, Mark (D-Alaska): ?

Bennet, Michael (D-Colo.): ?

Boozman, John (R-Ark.): ?

Burr, Richard (R-N.C.): ?

Carper, Tom (D-Del.): ?

Chambliss, Saxby (R-Ga.): ?

Coats, Daniel (R-Ind.): ?

Coburn, Tom (R-Okla.): ?

Cochran, Thad (R-Miss.): ?

Collins, Susan (R-Maine): ?

Conrad, Kent (D-N.D.): ?

Coons, Christopher (D-Del.): ?

Corker, Bob (R-Tenn.): ?

Cornyn, John (R-Texas): ?

Cruz, Ted (Sen.Elect, R-Texas): ?

DeMint, Jim (R-S.C.): ?

Fischer, Deb (Sen.-Elect, R-Neb.): ?

Flake, Jeff (Sen.-Elect, R-Ariz): ?

Graham, Lindsey (R-S.C.): ?

Grassley, Chuck (R-Iowa): ?

Hagan, Kay (D-N.C.): ?

Hatch, Orrin (R-Utah): ?

Heitkamp, Heidi (Sen.-Elect, D-N.D.): ?

Heller, Dean (R-Nev.): ?

Hirono, Mazie (Sen.-Elect, D-Hawaii): ?

Hoeven, John (R-N.D.): ?

Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-Texas): ?

Inhofe, James (R-Okla.): ?

Isakson, Johnny (R-Ga.): ?

Johanns, Mike (R-Neb.): ?

Johnson, Ron (R-Wis.): ?

Kaine, Tim (Sen.-Elect, D-Va.): ?

Kirk, Mark (R-Ill.): ?

Kohl, Herb (D-Wis.): ?

Kyl, John (R-Ariz.): ?

Landrieu, Mary (D-La.): ?

Leahy, Patrick (D-Vt.): ?

Lee, Mike (R-Utah): ?

Levin, Carl (D-Mich.): ?

Lugar, Richard (R-Ind.): ?

McCain, John (R-Ariz.): ?

McConnell, Mitch (R-Ky.): ?

Merkley, Jeff (D-Ore.): ?

Moran, Jerry (R-Kansas): ?

Murkowski, Lisa (R-Alaska): ?

Nelson, Ben (D-Neb.): ?

Paul, Rand (R-Ky.): ?

Pryor, Mark (D-Ark.): ?

Roberts, Pat (R-Kansas): ?

Sanders, Bernard (I-Vt.): ?

Scott, Tim (Sen.-Designate, R-S.C.): ?

Sessions, Jeff (R-Ala.): ?

Snowe, Olympia (R-Maine): ?

Stabenow, Debbie (D-Mich.): ?

Tester, Jon (D-Mont.): ?

Thune, John (R-S.D.): ?

Toomey, Patrick (R-Penn.): ?

Udall, Mark (D-Colo.): ?

Vitter, David (R-La.): ?

Webb, Jim (D-Va.): ?

Wicker, Roger (R-Miss.): ?

Wyden, Ron (D-Ore.): ?

*Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who is not counted here, passed away Monday at age 88.