Washington (CNN) — It may be politically quixotic, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein proceeded undeterred Wednesday in seeking an updated version of the assault weapons ban she sponsored in 1994 that expired a decade later.
Fierce opposition by the influential National Rifle Association and conservative legislators, including some Democrats, makes it virtually impossible that the kind of ban proposed by Feinstein will win congressional approval.
The legislative focus has shifted to expanding and strengthening background checks for gun purchases, as well as toughening laws against gun trafficking and so-called straw purchases.
President Barack Obama has proposed a package that includes a ban on semi-automatic firearms that mimic military assault rifles, as well as limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and requiring background checks on all gun sales to close a loophole for private transactions.
Feinstein is proposing the weapons ban component of legislation the Senate Judiciary Committee will draft for consideration in coming weeks. She led the battle for the 1994 assault weapons ban, which ended in 2004 when Congress failed to renew it.
This time, Feinstein and other supporters of tougher gun laws have the December massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators at a Connecticut school as the emotional impetus for new legislation against chronic gun violence in the United States.
At a Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, photos of the Newtown school shooting victims filled a poster behind Feinstein as she opened the proceedings.
The California Democrat asked victims of gun violence in the audience to stand as well as law enforcement officers from various states attending the hearing.
A renewed push for an assault weapons ban was necessary “because the massacre in Newtown was sadly not an anomaly,” Feinstein said.