WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has rejected an attempt by Democrats to ban assault weapons, one of their leading answers to December's slayings of children and staff at an elementary in Newtown, Conn.

Led by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, supporters said barring the military-style weapons would reduce the deadliness of gun crimes because shooters wouldn't be able to fire as many shots.

But Republicans and many Democrats opposed taking a step they say would curtail the Second Amendment right to bear arms. They also argued that prohibiting the weapons would do little because assault weapons account for a small portion of gun crimes.

The defeat Wednesday was expected.

The plan was rejected 60-40.

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