New gun control legislation in Congress unlikely
January 11th, 2011
06:55 PM ET
7 years ago

New gun control legislation in Congress unlikely

Washington (CNN) - Accused gunman Jared Lee Loughner opened fire with a gun using a magazine holding up to 30 bullets before he was tackled while trying to reload.

Some Democrats in Congress argue such high capacity magazines should not be legal, and are renewing their push for a ban.

"That enabled him to do the kind of damage that he did. There is no earthly reason for these weapons to have that kind of bullet capacity," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey.

In 1994, President Clinton signed an assault weapons ban that made high capacity ammunition magazines like the one Loughner allegedly used illegal. But the ban lapsed in 2004 without much of a fight.

Senior Democrats who had been front and center pushing gun control in the 1980s and 90s concluded it was bad politics.

In the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore campaigned aggressively for what he called "common sense gun safety measures."

After Gore lost his home state of Tennessee and West Virginia, Democratic strategists argued they were forfeiting critical votes in rural America by advocating stricter gun laws; many Democrats are still wary of the issue.

"Gun control is probably not a winning issue," said Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who is known as a liberal, but supports gun rights.

That's why even in the Senate, where Democrats still have control, senior Democratic sources say gun control legislation is not likely to go anywhere.

"We're going to focus on fights we can win," said one senior Democratic source.
The reality is that well before Republicans took control of the House, pro-gun forces had gained ground.

A Democratic Congress passed measures that allowed firearms in national parks, and in luggage on Amtrak.

Last year, House Democratic leaders pulled legislation giving the District of Columbia voting rights, because gun rights advocates had the votes to add a provision that would have overturned some D.C. gun restrictions.

"We are a pro-gun Congress, and have been for a while," says a House Democratic leadership aide.

Still, in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting spree, Congress did act to strengthen states' reporting requirements on gun background checks.

Gun control advocates are trying to seize the moment again, and are pushing Democratic leaders to, in their words, show leadership on the issue.

Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign is already walking the halls of Congress lobbying the Senate to take up Lautenberg's legislation banning high capacity magazines, and a companion bill from Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-New York, is in the House.

"It has directly involved a member of Congress, it involved a congressional staffer who is now dead, it involved a federal judge who is now dead, a nine year old who is dead – I think when it hits that close to home, hopefully folks on the Hill will wake up," Helmke told CNN in a Capitol Hill interview.

But opposition appears insurmountable.

Lawmakers like Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, insist high capacity magazines are "already out there," and passing a ban would be pointless.

"Bad guys are going to get guns, they're going to get clips and they're going to do bad things because that's what their intention is. We should not divert our attention from what the real problem was here. We had an individual who has expressed violent intent who clearly had some mental instability along the way," said Rogers.

"Getting into a debate – should it be three rounds or eight rounds or 30 rounds is irrelevant. The fact that they’re going to have access to firearms and we still have the second amendment in the United States," said Rogers.

When asked what the chances are for any gun legislation to pass Congress, a senior Republican leadership aide replied, "zero."

The National Rifle Association declined to comment on any gun legislation, calling it "inappropriate" right now.

The NRA’s statement simply said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this senseless tragedy, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and their families during this difficult time. We join the rest of the country in praying for the quick recovery of those injured."

Filed under: Congress • Gun rights
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Frank in Valparaiso Indiana

    We need a 'Do Not Arm' act. A national database where you put all the people who have mental disorders and run ins with the local police. On pharmaceutical drugs for mental conditions? No gun. Thrown out of campus until you get mental counseling? No gun. Try to buy at Wal Mart and get turned down, other stores get an alert – do not sell to this guy. If he has a problem with this, he has to talk to the local sheriff. No foreign IDs, US driver's license only. Same with ammo. Violations would be a felony.

    January 11, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Our neighborhood Wal-Mart is selling guns to nuts like we are going to invade Cuba. It must be time for the NRA to wheel out of touch Chuck Norris to tell people that 'gubba' mint is going to take their guns away.

    January 11, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  3. S. In California

    Bottom line: GUNS KILL. I wonder how many people in the grave or injured due to guns would vote to REPEAL the 2nd Amendment? My guess: ALL OF THEM. No guns = no lives lost.

    January 11, 2011 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. Guns Don't Kill People . . .

    Lunatics who are able to purchase 33 bullet magazines for their Glocks kill people.

    Why do you need a clip that holds 33 bullets?

    January 11, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  5. Root and stem

    Mr. Obama has frequently advocated bringing a gun to the fight, so why he want to limit guns in any way ?

    January 11, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. larrybarry

    What is Frank talking about, how else do we defend ourselves against the radical Islamic terrorists that is in our country? There is also the unsecured border, there is no telling what evil criminal types are entering our country.

    January 11, 2011 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  7. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Here is my grandfather's opinion on gun control – one shot = one deer, or rabbit. Here is my father's opinion on gun control – a 5-shot group that you can cover with a dime. Here is my opinion on gun control – use both hands! That being said, let's go on with the discussion.

    For the most part, new legislation is not needed. What is needed is enforcement of current laws on national, state and local levels. I will agree with one thing, though. I see no need for high capacity magazines for any weapon. There is no need for a handgun not used by police or military to have a magazine with a capacity larger than 6 rounds. Nor is there a need for a civilian rifle or shotgun to have a capacity greater than 5 rounds (including the chamber).

    The other area where law enforcements hands are tied is in the background checks. Currently, there is no requirement that if someone is undergoing psychiatric care that the information on that person is posted on a federal database. This lack was seen in both the UVA and Tucson shootings, where individuals with identified psychiatric problems were still able to buy firearms. There is a line-item in the background check form that asks about this. Stating the truth would deny the right to purchase. As it sounds like Loughner intended to commit "Suicide by Police" and failed, he had nothing to lose by lying!

    Finding intelligent long term solutions is what is needed, not the knee-jerk reactions our congress is so bad at.

    January 11, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  8. Olaf Big

    People who insist that second amendment gives citizens right to carry automatic weapons should remember that the arms the founding fathers had in mind were one-shot muzzle loaders and horse pistols.

    January 11, 2011 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  9. kayla

    until it hits home with one of them, they will probably think about gun control. until then, same here same here. how sad.

    January 11, 2011 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  10. Gil

    Sad,we need to outlaw guns and prevent the slaughter of 30,000 people each year. I never read about guns saving lives.
    Since when is the right to bare 90 rounds in a gun clip necessary! We have become a nation of IDIOTS!

    January 11, 2011 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  11. Jim Gallagher

    As this issue gets batted around, it might be prudent to include the fact that the previous ban only covered the manufacture and sale of the hi cap mags. The number of hi cap mags in private hands at the time of the ban was staggering. The only noticable change after the ban was the price of a hi cap mag. With two mags per gun the norm with purchase and buying a extra one or two, that would give you four mags per gun. Count somewhere between 75 and 100 million semi auto weapons in private hands that gives you somewher in the neighborhood of 400,000,000 hi cap mags in circulation. Given those numbers, just exactly what practical out come would another ban produce?

    January 11, 2011 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  12. Name king

    Hey you've got to realize that the NRA won't go for this, and the repugs will back them just as they hijacked the middle class tax cut for the rich. They are no reason why these magazines are allowed in society. Who need a 30 clip magazine to hunt bamboo any way. I know it may help Palin shoot all those dogs from a helicopter in Alaska, but what will it benefit to shoot bamboo in the wild, since this wont be a challenge for hunters and shooting mass human beings is Illegal.

    January 11, 2011 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  13. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    The tired old refrain of blaming the gun for the actions of the man who used it.

    Instead of blaming the guns, why not blame the system already in place that failed to make publicly known Loughner's repeatedly demonstrated mental aberrations?

    The answer, of course, is that such an action wouldn't satisfy the gun-grabbers, who will seize on any opportunity to express their distrust of, and contempt for, those of us who choose to own guns.

    January 11, 2011 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  14. Catie

    I fully support being able to carry a weapon. However, I do agree there are some weapons that should be banned. I find it interesting that the left is accusing the right, namely Palin, for this mans behavior. When it was Obama who said "If they bring a knife, we bring a gun" This nonsense has got to stop from the very top down. He needs to start setting a better example of unity. He has divided this country to epic proportions. I have never seen such vitriole, not even during Bushs 8 years, when it did start with the left media. People need to calm down. That is why I loved Miss Gabrielle. She is the perfect politician, she can relate to just about everyone. God bless her and I will be praying for her

    January 11, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  15. 100% ETH

    What happened at Tucson, Arizona was unspeakable TRAGEDY.

    But, when we saw the shooter appearance(physically), in T.V., he looks much better than the average people we seen everyday, everywhere in America. If we concluded, this Man is mentally-ill, how about those(Millions) of Americans that appears to be not better than Him??? Are They more insane and are we expecting them to committed another unspeakable Crime???

    How about, at least, fulfilling their needs through their local communities either by advise or on going councillings by identifying who those people are???

    In my opinion, a strong community organizations and friendly help could prevent crimes not to happened in everywhere in America, but nothing else.

    January 11, 2011 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  16. Sara

    Only insecure clings to their guns.

    January 11, 2011 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  17. We're Number One, We're Number One . . .

    Yes, people, America IS the number one country in the world for political assassinations, suicides by gun and just plain murder with guns.
    Way to go America, you rock!

    January 11, 2011 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  18. carol fryday

    I suppose in a few years a laser handgun will be developed and then the party will really begin. How will the police tell whose laser burnt a hole through a body and killed the victim. Somewhere alone the line people may come to realize that weapons in the hands of folks is more of a danger than a safety matter. In Canada, Handguns are illegal, period. Same goes for many countries.Time to wake up because you can't smell the roses at your ouw funeral!

    January 11, 2011 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  19. Name

    Isn't murder already illegal and the shooter didn't care about that law.

    January 11, 2011 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  20. Jason

    Do not infringe upon my rights to bear arms. This was not only meant to keep away foreign invaders afraid of US Citizens but also the US Government. The sad part is this guy may be crazy, but the democrats forced health care through the Senate on a procedural move without a vote against a backdrop of Americans screaming at the top of thier lungs NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

    January 11, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  21. Constitutionalist_Patriot

    They better forget gun control legislation. Not to mention any federal law regarding firearms is unconstitutional. There are some measures even I may support, however the problem with these criminals in congress is they don't obey the law. You cannot infringe or alter a constitutional right with simple legislation, it must be done through the constitutional amendment process. What if congress treated free speech the way they do 2nd amendment rights. We as a people need to defend all liberties. When one American's freedom dies everyone else's is in grave danger too. If you don't like guns don't buy one. Otherwise think about how you would like it if someone tried to strip away your cherished rights simply because they do not value them as you. With all the wackos and druggies out there every family should have at least one gun for protection. Otherwise you aren't doing your duty as a parent to protect your children with every tool at your disposal.

    January 11, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  22. DENNA

    Well I hope the Conservatives are happy. All of that mean-spirited rhetoric against the Liberals, all of that Democratic districts in the cross-hairs nonsense. NOW can we be civil? I am not saying that the shooter listened to anyone in particular, but this country cannot go on with this vile anger. Something bad was bound to happen and his allegedly being disturbed will not change that. If we do not learn to indulge civil discourse, America will become another cesspool of hatred and in-fighting. We cannot keep doing this!

    January 11, 2011 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  23. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    They should call it (30-shot magazine), a "mall clip."

    January 11, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  24. jeff

    it a shame the NRA does not get it.Never the american made killing machines fault 'guns '. Always the sick people who easy access to guns is to blame.Yea lets just pray after the killngs,that always makes gun nuts feel good. Stop selling handguns to the public.

    January 11, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  25. james

    Let's try profiling these wackjobs who do stuff like this first. If you do you'll keep weapons out of their hands and there'll be no need for The Laut's idiotic bill.

    January 11, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
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