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Holder dials back his commitment to pushing ban on assault weapons

Holder dials back his commitment to pushing ban on assault weapons

Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderAlarm grows over Trump team's efforts to monitor polls The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden on Trump: 'He'll leave' l GOP laywers brush off Trump's election remarks l Obama's endorsements Obama endorses Warnock in crowded Georgia Senate race MORE is retreating on his commitment to pursue a controversial gun-control measure.

Holder’s statements, recently delivered to senators in writing, clearly indicate the Obama administration is in no rush to reinstate the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

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In response to written questions from Senate Judiciary Committee members, Holder adopted a much different tone on the ban than he did in February, when he said, “As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons.”

That comment attracted many headlines, but the nation’s chief law enforcement officer is now downplaying his earlier remarks.

Noting his February statements, Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnDemocrats step up hardball tactics in Supreme Court fight COVID response shows a way forward on private gun sale checks Inspector general independence must be a bipartisan priority in 2020 MORE (R-Okla.) asked Holder, “Is it still your intent to seek a reinstitution of the ‘assault weapons’ ban?”

Holder stressed that he wasn’t breaking new ground earlier this year.

His response to a reporter in February, Holder claims, is not akin to “call[ing] for a new assault weapons ban, but rather restating the previously expressed campaign position on this issue.”

Regarding the administration’s next step, Holder stated, "The department is currently reviewing existing gun laws to determine how best to combat gun violence and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others prohibited from possessing them."

Holder's response to Coburn is the latest in a series of mixed messages from Obama and his team after the president vowed during his campaign that he would seek to reinstate the ban.

The White House quickly distanced itself from Holder's comments in February, but the president said during a press conference in Mexico City in April that he has "not backed off at all from my belief that the assault weapons ban makes sense."

Obama acknowledged at the press conference that he was not "under any illusions that reinstating that ban would be easy."

A bi-national panel of former government officials and scholars issued a report on Friday recommending the reinstatement of the assault weapons band. It also called for a crackdown on the illegal export of guns to Mexico.