Hill Democrats look to 'silent majority' on gun control
July 24th, 2012
07:16 PM ET
6 years ago

Hill Democrats look to 'silent majority' on gun control

Washington (CNN) - Last week's massacre in Colorado dominated the dialogue on Capitol Hill Tuesday as top Democrats called for a national conversation on gun control but declined to offer any new proposals on the hot button issue.

Citing the alleged shooter's use of an assault weapon equipped with a high capacity ammunition magazine that could fire 100 rounds, a group of congressional Democrats pressed for a ban on the sale of this type of ammunition. Similar legislation was introduced last year after a mass shooting in Tucson that left six dead and 13 wounded, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona.

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While a number of senior Democratic leaders support this proposal, they haven't pushed for a vote on it. On Tuesday, they were quick to place blame for the lack of stricter gun control measures squarely at the feet of their GOP counterparts.

"We see what's in the (Republican-controlled) House and we see the power of the NRA around here," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York.

"The way to overcome it is for citizens, the silent majority," to speak out, he asserted, invoking a term made famous over 40 years ago by Republican President Richard Nixon.

"The Second Amendment can have reasonable limits," Schumer declared.

For their part, top Republicans made clear that new gun control laws have no chance of winning approval in Congress.

"I don't sense any movement among either Democrats or Republicans in the direction of thinking that stricter gun control laws would likely have prevented this horrible occurrence in Colorado," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters that Republicans are merely following the lead of President Barack Obama.

"The president has made clear that he's not going to use this horrific event to push for new gun laws, and I agree," Boehner told reporters.

While Obama visited victims of the massacre over the weekend, the White House appears to be wary of offending politically influential gun owners in the middle of a tough re-election fight.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Sunday that the "president's view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law. And that's his focus right now."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, avoided pointed questions on the issue on Tuesday.

"I'm not going to be here with each of you debating gun control," Reid told reporters. "I'm not going to be debating magazine size and other things."

Pelosi told CNN she's "concerned about the people who died (in Colorado) and getting all the facts as to how that happened."

The result: House members united in a moment of silence on Tuesday afternoon to mourn the death of 12 people and the wounding of dozens more. The Colorado delegation introduced a resolution honoring and commemorating the victims. But there was no hint of any agreement on policy proposals.

Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the number two House Democrat and a gun control advocate, conceded that every time an incident similar to the Colorado shooting happens, those pushing for new restrictions can't get the votes to pass any new laws.

Another top House Democrat also acknowledged the continuing political difficulties of gun control advocates – even within the more progressive Democratic caucus.

"If you look at polling data and the information, obviously one man's tea becomes another man's poison based on what … region or (part of) the country that you're in," Connecticut Rep. John Larson told CNN. "We face some very strong opposition."

Forty-nine percent of Americans think it's more important to protect gun rights than to control gun ownership, according to an April 4-15 poll from the Pew Research Center. Forty-five percent believe gun control is more important.

Regardless, New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy – elected to the House in the 1990s after her husband was killed in a shooting on the Long Island Railroad – was one of several Democrats on Tuesday who urged members of both parties to support a ban on at least the type of high capacity ammunition magazine used in Aurora, Colorado.

"All we're hearing from the NRA is we're taking" away gun rights, McCarthy said. "This has nothing to do with Second Amendment rights." The magazine used by alleged gunman James Holmes was "made for military, for police. This is meant to kill as many people as possible" in the shortest possible period of time, she added.

"Let's be reasonable about what is acceptable," said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey. "This is clearly about killing as many people as possible...You wouldn't shoot a deer with 100 bullets."

It's time for a national conversation to "crystallize the thinking of Americans" on gun control, he declared.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, one of the most outspoken congressional proponents of gun control, insisted Tuesday he will not be deterred by long odds.

"There is almost a resignation to the futility of our mission," he told reporters. "But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't continue to mount the effort. That's where it falls. It falls in the Congress. So we will carry on."

Filed under: 2012 • Congress
soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. Raymond

    So much for the 2nd Amendment's stricture on gun control via "a well regulated militia." A culture that allows civilians to buy, possess and use military-grade weapons and ammunition is perverted. But then again I suppose NRA members sleep with an AK-47 with 100-round magazine under their pillows. Just in case...

    July 24, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  2. Name JR

    Schumer is disingenuous. He would never leave a voting block aside without making political capital. The mind set that declares a modification of the 2nd amendment should also be examined. Remember there was a reason the "the right to bear arms" came right after "freedom of speech". This seems to be lost on politicians. The tyranny that all gov ts aspire to become is only contained by a force of equal magnitude. Personal liberty. Not collective manevelance..

    July 24, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. TAK

    This guy was building bombs in his apartment and these clowns believe a few new gun laws would have reigned him in?

    Get a life!!!!

    July 24, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  4. Darryl

    Everybody knows the Republican Party is Guns, War, Attack, Kill, Get rid of the Goverment, Freedom NO regulations, No Laws...ect, it goes on an on. The Guns have to be Controled in a major way period.

    July 24, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  5. Bryan

    "This is clearly about killing as many people as possible...You wouldn't shoot a deer with 100 bullets."

    Why do these moronic Democratic politicians keep using hunting analogies in their flawed gun control arguments? The second amendment wasn't established to protect hunters, it was established to recognize our right to self defense. It's not about hunting, its about protecting our right to prevent thugs from hunting our families.

    July 24, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  6. Bob from Pittsburgh

    Hillarious... Americans will not stop the carnage, and its their own carnage..

    July 24, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  7. Bob from Pittsburgh

    Americans shold not worry about international extremist trying to kill americans, they should worry about their home grown terrorist..

    July 24, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Yeah, just ask those in Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, Communist China how that worked only having the police and military armed!!!!! We are from the government, you can trust us...............

    July 24, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  9. Ins1te

    NRA = scaring people to death.

    July 24, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  10. jrs1972

    The magazine used by alleged gunman James Holmes was "made for military, for police. This is meant to kill as many people as possible" in the shortest possible period of time, she added.
    Wow. nice quote right there. so these magazines are meant for police to kill as many people as possible.. Lately theres a LOT of incredibly ignorant statements coming out of democrats mouths.. keep going and I'll start voting republican because you guys are starting to scare me.

    July 24, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  11. acutabove

    I don't think Dems really think there is a majority wanting more gun laws. If they did they would be more of them openly and loudly pushing for new laws.

    July 24, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  12. 21k

    the only time the gop steps up to the plate on guns is when one of their own is a victim. see ronald reagan.

    July 24, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  13. dave

    "made for military, for police. This is meant to kill as many people as possible" in the shortest possible period of time, she added.

    So our representatives are ok with arming the police with magazines made to" kill as many people as possible in as short a period as possible"????
    Why is this magazine even an issue? It supposedly jammed and the rifle was dropped. Would everyone be happier if he had thrown some of his homemade expllosives in the theater?

    July 24, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  14. Mark C.

    The Dems and the President are wimps. There is no reason anybody should be able to purchase an assault rifle. There is nothing in the second amendment that says you have a right to own one. I also thing handguns should be banned. There is nothing in the second amendment that says you an individual has the right to own a gun to protect him/herself. It only allows for the right to bear arms as a means of protecting the State. Politicians, quit cowtowing to the NRA, the right wing media, and the obnoxiously loud gun hawks. Time to stand up and be a patriot in the defense of our country!

    July 24, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  15. diabetesnurse

    im all for the 2nd amendment and right to bear arms but did our forefathers really intend for everyone to own assault rifles, glocks, machine guns, and extended magazines? c'mon Mr John BOner...do regular people NOT in a military battlefield really need these typs of guns? Nothing good can come of that.

    July 24, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  16. Jenny

    If someone is determined to cause mayhem & death they will. Criminals do not follow the law thats why they are called criminals. Law abiding citizens are just that they follow the law. More laws or regulations would not have changed the outcome. It could have been much worse he could have bombed the place so what would you try to outlaw then. There are more laws governing more things than there should be. The Democrats are hell bent on destroying this Nation but they haven't been outlawed yet.

    July 24, 2012 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  17. Phil Thomas

    IIts sad the NRA has so many people brain washed, the gun lobby is running a racker and they are in bed with Congress. Scoring votes and driving conspiracy theories, its a shame.

    July 24, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  18. patrick

    Ok, so we cannot downplay the tradgedy of last Friday. Many will see this as another in a long line of examples of where gun bans and gun outlawing would have meant this would not happen. I have to respectfully disagree.

    Whether you believe the idea of the 2nd amendment was militias or that you could keep anything that fired a round, you really have to look at the reality of this crazy person. If guns were not available, he would have likely used the bombs that he was capable of making.

    We have to realize that the dangerous element in these events is the human that pulls them off, not the weapons themselves. If I really believed that gun bans would have stopped this or any other person like them from doing this, I would actually vote for that. The problem is that when you live in a free and open society, people can find plenty of ways to kill others and guns are not even the most efficient way.

    On the flip side, if we start to have to take our shoes off to go to the movies, if we are subject to major searches, if we are put under more requirements, this horrible 24 year old monster was able to win something. Lets face it, you go into public and you could be killed. This can and probably will happen again. But, if we go to the movies and live fulls lives anyway, they become marginalized and they loose the power to terrorise us.

    Patrick Schooler

    July 24, 2012 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  19. jda1104

    I'm all for taking away assault weapons and these crazy magazine.... I don't care if you are an angle you should not own an assault weapon in this country. I'm all for owning hand guns and hunting rifles but not assault weapons.

    July 24, 2012 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  20. amarjeet

    Silent majority of voters will support Presiden Obama keeping in view the realistic conditions not just capitalistic.

    July 24, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  21. SalinasPhil

    Count me in. It's way too easy to get weapons in this country.

    July 24, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  22. amarjeet

    "The Second Amendment can have reasonable limits," Schumer declared. Second amendment gives freedom to citizens to bear arms to protect independence of country not killing innocent people in public places like Arizona ,Military camp & now in Movie Theater.

    July 24, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  23. Robert Norton

    Would this be the same Silent Majority that cost the Democrats 54 seats the last time they got into a gun-grabbing snit just before an election? Looks like they want a repeat of 1994.

    July 24, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  24. Eric

    To understand why anti-gun Democrats are nuts; listen to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy:

    "All we're hearing from the NRA is we're taking" away gun rights, McCarthy said. "This has nothing to do with Second Amendment rights." The magazine used by alleged gunman James Holmes was "made for military, for police..."

    Per the Second Amendment; "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Arms. Not hunting rifles, not toys, not sporting pieces, but arms; weapons.

    Some people may not like that Amendment, but I would expect that a member of Congress could be troubled to read it.

    July 24, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  25. Robert Norton

    That magazine was not made for either the military nor the police. McCarthy is a known prevaricator about firearms.

    July 24, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
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