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Cheney Could Cast Tie-Breaking Vote To Renew The Assault Weapons Ban On Tue

Senate vote on Assault Weapons Ban will be VERY close, and there's a good chance Cheney will cast the deciding vote; President made campaign pledge to back the ban

With White House wavering in recent days over support for Assault Weapons Ban, Schumer urges Cheney to stick by President's promise to renew the law

With Tuesday's Senate vote on reauthorizing the Assault Weapons Ban expected to be VERY close, US Senator Charles Schumer today urged VP Cheney to be available to cast the tiebreaking vote in favor of renewing the Assault Weapons Ban if needed. As President of the US Senate, Cheney casts the deciding vote when there is a tie.

In a letter being sent to the VicePresident today, "I expect that should there be a tie vote on the Assault Weapons Ban, you will fulfill the Presidents commitment to reauthorizing this important public safety legislation and cast the tiebreaking vote. I further trust that you will be in Washington and available on Tuesday should that vote be needed."

Although President Bush pledged to back renewing the ban during the 2000 campaign and has reiterated that support in recent months, the White House's support for doing so has wavered this week. On Wednesday, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy opposing any amendments to S. 1805, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (commonly known as the gun immunity bill).

"For the last year, the worstkept secret in Washington was that the gun immunity bill would be the way the assault weapons ban got renewed," Schumer said. "The President and the VicePresident are well aware of this and Tuesday's vote will be a real test of their credibility. I hope the White House will stick to its pledge and keep its word to back renewing the Assault Weapons Ban. If not, the ban will lapse and one of our most effective crimefighting tools will be taken off the table."

The Assault Weapons Ban is set to expire in September. It has been an effective crimefighting tool, reducing the proportion of banned assault weapons traced to crimes by 65.8% since 1995, according to data from the Department of Justice. In 1995, the first year that the ban went into effect, assault weapons represented 3.57 percent of all crime guns recovered from crimes. By 2002, assault weapons represented only 1.22 percent of the number of guns used in crimes.

The Assault Weapons Ban is supported by top law enforcement organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, which has more than 310,000 members in more than 2,100 lodges. In addition, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major City Chiefs, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Organization of Black Police Officials, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, and the American Probation and Parole Association all support the ban.

A copy of Schumer's letter to Cheney is attached.