The [Democrats] winning both chambers of Congress plus the White House may have raised hopes for long-sought gun control measures, such as a ban on assault rifles. But Democrats are instead starting to look at smaller measures that can win bipartisan support and break the National Rifle Association’s strong influence over Congress.
With the Senate split 50–50, any gun control measure needs at least 10 Republican votes to overcome a filibuster. The shooting rampage in Atlanta that left eight people dead this week has not softened Republican resistance to any new laws that broadly restrict access to firearms. In interviews with BuzzFeed News, a half dozen Republican senators expressed opposition to universal background checks and said that policy would likely be dead on arrival in the Senate.
That leaves Democrats with a choice between lowering their aims or fighting for an extensive bill and risking coming away with nothing. There does not appear to be much appetite for the latter path.
“Do you try and move a comprehensive gun bill that will go nowhere?” said Delaware Sen. Chris Coons. “Or do you take a small bill, pass it, then a medium-sized bill and pass it?”