"WASHINGTON, July 23 - During his campaign for the presidency in 2000, George W. Bush took a dramatic step: a vow to support the ban on assault weapons, enacted in 1994 for a 10-year period.
"It makes no sense for assault weapons to be around our society," Mr. Bush declared.
Since then, the president's advisers have repeatedly affirmed his support for the ban, a position that has helped him appeal to moderate voters and demonstrate independence from the powerful gun lobby. But in the middle of a presidential election year, and with only five working days left in Congress before the law expires at midnight on Sept. 13, the issue has become a hot potato that no one in the Bush administration seems eager to touch.
Mr. Bush has said he would sign legislation extending the ban if the Republican-controlled Congress passed it, and White House officials say he stands by that pledge. But Congress has already begun a six-week recess, and Republicans there say they have yet to hear him declare that he actually wants the legislation to move.
All the while, the clock keeps ticking, leaving legislators of both parties predicting that the ban, which for a decade has barred production and sale of 19 kinds of assault weapons, will lapse. The lawmakers do not return to work until Sept. 7, leaving too little time, many feel, for legislation extending the measure to pass both houses of Congress. Source