Slatest PM: So Much for Obama's Assault-Weapons Ban

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 4 2013 5:03 PM

Slatest PM: So Much for Obama's Assault-Weapons Ban

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President Barack Obama speaks before a crowd of local leaders and law enforcement officials at the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Center on Monday in Minneapolis.

Photo by Ben Garvin/Getty Images

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Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The Gun Show: New York Times: "President Obama traveled to the nation’s heartland to press his case for tougher gun laws on Monday, even as evidence mounted in Washington that expanded background checks on gun sales may emerge as a legislative compromise in the bitterly divisive cultural debate. In a city once called 'Murder-apolis' because of its homicide rate in the 1990s, the president cited its successful gun violence prevention efforts as evidence that new national laws are needed to reduce the number of shootings across the country. 'The only way we can reduce gun violence in this country is if the American people decide it’s important,' Mr. Obama said, standing in front of a sea of police officers and sheriff’s deputies at the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Center."

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What Can Get Done: Washington Post: "Obama focused on the most popular of his proposals, universal background checks, saying it is not a conservative or liberal idea but a 'smart' idea. The president sought to drive a wedge between the powerful National Rifle Association, which opposes universal background checks, and the American public, which polls suggest overwhelmingly supports the measure."

What Probably Can't: Wall Street Journal: "Senate Democratic leaders expect a gun bill to move to the Senate floor that includes most of the proposals backed by President Barack Obama, with the notable exception of a ban on military-style, semiautomatic weapons, a top aide to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said. The bill would likely seek to limit the capacity of ammunition magazines; expand background checks to include sales at gun shows and other private transactions; and require better record keeping to keep guns out of the hands of those with mental illnesses. It would also try to curb gun sales in states with more relaxed gun laws to buyers in states with stricter laws. ... The goal is to get the bill to the Senate floor next month, at which point lawmakers could then seek to amend the legislation by adding a ban on certain semiautomatic weapons or other provisions, the aide said."

How It Will Go Down: Huffington Post: "The ban will get a vote. But the purpose of that vote will be in part to facilitate its demise. The expectation is that there won't be 60 members of the upper chamber to support the bill's inclusion in the final legislative language. The likelihood that an assault weapons ban ends up in the legislative scrapheap is hardly unexpected .... The ban is the most controversial of four major components of the gun control platform that the Obama administration introduced and that congressional Democrats have touted."

Happy Monday and welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

Super Bowl Comes Up Short: Chicago Tribune: "Sunday's close Super Bowl contest between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers failed to beat last year's game in total viewers, CBS Corp said on Monday. An average of 108.41 million viewers tuned in, compared with 111.3 million a year ago when the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots on NBC. CBS said it was the third-most-watched program in television history, behind last year's Super Bowl and 2011's match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, which garnered 111 million viewers. CBS did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether a 35-minute partial electrical blackout in the third quarter of the game affected ratings. Advertisers paid $4 million on average for a 30-second spot during the game."

Free WiFi For All: Washington Post: "The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month. The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say. That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor."

Senate Still Trying To Pass Anti-Violence Bill: Associated Press: " Senate Democrats worked toward picking up Republican allies Monday as they launched a new attempt to broaden a law protecting women from domestic abuse by expanding its provisions to cover gays, lesbians and Native Americans. The legislation to renew the Violence Against Women Act appeared on a smooth path toward passage in the Senate, possibly by the end of this week. Monday's procedural vote to make the bill the next order of business was expected to easily clear the 60-vote threshold. Senate passage would send the bill to the House."

DOJ To Sue S&P: Reuters: "Standard & Poor's said it expects to be the target of a U.S. Department of Justice civil lawsuit over its mortgage bond ratings, the first federal enforcement action against a credit rating agency over alleged illegal behavior tied to the recent financial crisis. Shares of McGraw-Hill Cos, the parent of S&P, plunged 13.8 percent on Monday after news of the expected lawsuit surfaced, their biggest one-day percentage decline since the 1987 stock market crash, according to Reuters data."

Finding King Richard III: Washington Post: "A team of archaeologists confirmed Monday that ancient remains found under a parking lot belong to long-lost King Richard III, successfully ending a search that sparked a modern-day debate about the legacy of the reputed tyrant. Details of the findings were released hours after DNA tests came in late Sunday. The 500-year-old remains were discovered five months ago, using ancient maps and records to uncover the ruins of the old friary where Richard III was laid to rest."

California Bus Crash: Los Angeles Times: "The bus that crashed on a narrow mountain road near Yucaipa, Calif., on Sunday night, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 30 others, had been cited repeatedly in recent months for poor maintenance. In October, owner Scapadas Magicas, a small firm in National City, was cited for eight deficiencies found during a roadside check of the vehicle. They included a damaged windshield, lack of a properly installed fire extinguisher and other problems. In July, the same bus was cited for a damaged windshield, as well as a faulty axle and brakes. In May, its wheel fasteners were loose or missing."

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