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. snacker

    I bet you won't see a mad man come shoot up a gun show... (hence why you shouldn't strip guns away from law abiding citizens)

    July 24, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  2. Abnguy

    The Second Amendments reasonable limits were reached long ago. It is time to repeal some of the more draconinian laws.

    July 24, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  3. Logic hurts people's feelings

    Firearm ammunition is primarily designed to inflict maximum damage on soft tissue. This includes animals and people. Guns are designed to deliver said ammunition to the chosen target in the most expeditious and accurate manner. Fact.
    Machetes are designed to cut through thick brush.Fact.
    In 1990's Rwanda people had no ready access to firearms. People used machetes to maim and kill half a million of their erstwhile friends and neighbors who did not have access to firearms to defend themselves.
    Demonizing firearms and ammunition as the cause of violence is a cowardly way of ignoring that we are a violent, cruel species that will turn on each other over the most minor disruption in everyday life. I will rather be an armed citizen than a hacked up pacifist.

    July 24, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  4. drinker75

    Anyone who thinks that the Founding Fathers would have thought owning modern semi automatic weapons was a good idea needs to have their head examined. There obviously needs to be limits.

    July 24, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  5. Truth Today

    The sad thing is we value a right more than we do another's right to life. And we call ourselves a JESUS LOVING NATION. I would surmise that this is not the case or questionable at best based upon the priorities of our values.

    July 24, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  6. Ron

    New Gun laws wont stop a nut case. If you want a free society you have to trust people a little. This guy made bombs. If he didn't have a gun there is a good chance he would have tossed a bomb and killed even more people.

    July 24, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  7. mitebite

    The 2nd amendment is not about hunting and target shooting. Those are secondary to being defense of family and self. I am very liberal when it comes to individual rights. The new right-to-carry laws erase many of the "Jim Crow" laws of the past where only the "good" people would be allowed to carry guns. The anti-gunners would have us go back to allowing only the "elite" to protect themselves with guns or bodyguards that carry guns. I don't want an elitest or police state and I don't thank the new, young CCW folks will quietly give up their right to carry and protect themselves. The hoplophobes did not count on a younger generation getting invloved in firearms. Many of the youger folk's introduction to firearms were Glock's and AR-15s. They go to the range to practice with what they have for defense. They also have fun when they go shoot. I am glad our younger generation is advocating the 2nd amendment for it's intended purpose – preservation of life and limb.

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

    I generally vote Republican, but on this issue I'm with the Democrats.
    It's time to reign in the sale of weapons of war to the general public.
    These are not appropriate toys for hobbyists to play with, nor are they necessary for self defense.

    July 24, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Let's make sure that all the rules are being enforced first. Are there enough people hired to do the job? That might be the problem.

    July 24, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  10. PartyPolitics

    I'm getting sick of the dumbed-down rhetoric and party politics that both Democrats and Republicans continue to put forth from Washington. These short clips that our media outlets show representatives jabbing at each other do every American no service as it does not educate, but rather deceive or skew us. It's time that we bring back debates of political philosophies in formats such as Lincoln-Douglas. We need the 4th Estate: the media to step back and remove themselves from the news, but rather show the news in an unadulterated manner. Every American deserves to see not just the position and record of those that seek to represent us, but the in-depth reasoning behind every their choices that are not constrained by the 30 second response we've seen in debates.

    July 24, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  11. Kelly

    The second amendment can have "reasonable limits"????? So then can the 1st amendment, and everyone after that. The instant someone put a "reasonable limit" on something it becomes a limit and the last time we had limited rights we were under the control of a king. I guess this is what the people in power want anyway since they are basically the new hierarchy and are untouchable by most all laws anyway.

    July 24, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  12. Jer

    The Second Amendment was written in the 1700's when America was warned "the British are coming!" This was written for the sole purpose of battle, nothing else, period. And their ammunition was one gun which took 5 minutes to put their one bullet into the end of their gun and continuously pump it for it to function.
    We have the military who has control of any battles on us – not the people!
    It is appalling how uneducated the elected Republican Congress and their campaign donors, the NRA are!

    July 24, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  13. Phil in Oregon

    I don't advocate taking guns away from the people – election year or not. But I have to admit a 100-round clip is a little overboard. If it takes that many shots to hit your target, you need to practice more.

    July 24, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  14. Taylor

    These weapons are designed for killing multiple people which is exactly why they should NOT be banned. In fact it has everything to do with the second Amendment. The problem is, the Government does not like the fact or thought that the Second Amendment was designed to kill as many Government officials as possible IF they ever step over the boundaries of our rights as guaranteed in the Constitution. If a law was designed to kill me I wouldn't like it either... So I fully understand why the government officials want to ban the intent of the Second Amendment. American citizens are wising up about the governments intent and that is what they are more concerned about.

    July 24, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  15. Mama Judy

    I own many rifles for hunting ...I favor gun control ...HELLO people what is so hard about this? Both parties are wimps for staying away from a common sense topic!

    July 24, 2012 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  16. Aristocles

    The silent majority is in favor of guns. This is how America has been able to keep the 2nd amendment alive in spite of attacks from coastal-inner city cultures. The founders did not intend for the 2nd amendment to be a collective right, but an individual one, as the other nine amendments in the bill of rights have also been considered individual rights.

    July 24, 2012 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  17. Duane st.pete Florida

    VA Tech shootings and Columbine High School shootings, both mass killings we're done with hand guns and shotguns.........living in a free society tough at times......but it's worth it.

    July 24, 2012 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  18. James

    "type of ammunition" the .223 round is shot in thousands of different firearms...lol "wouldn't shoot a deer with 100 bullets" no you'd use one from probably 30-06 or 308 it's called common sense. I do use a 100 round magazine when I target shoot so I don't have to reload as often. Forget the NRA, the SCOTUS has sided with gun owners for the past several years striking down laws restricting gun ownership. Decisions in 2008 and 2010 where the individuals right to own a firearm was upheld. Anything the liberals pass will just get struck down.

    July 24, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  19. wrongfool

    Chuck Schumar is a politician in the wrong era, he would of done better in 1930's Germany. Oh, he would of fit in so so well there with his arrogance.

    July 24, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  20. mamaw

    Was this assault rifle purchased legally? The highest gun related crimes are already in areas with tight gun control. What makes you think controling legal guns out of existance will protect you. If I should decide to kill someone do you really think I would care if the gun was legally obtained? Switzerland requires all citizens old enough own a gun and they have much lower gun related crime than anyone. Is there no intelligence left in this country or have we all become a bunch of stupid cows. I used to be a strong democrat but there isn't a hairs difference between any politician more. They are all focused on getting relected and could care less what is best for the country.

    July 24, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  21. Patriot

    As a Democrat and gun collector I favor registration. I lived in Canada for a number of years and never had any difficulty registering my firearms or getting a carrying permit.
    I gave up my membership in the N.R.A. years ago when the Association no longer spoke for me and increasingly moved to the extreme right.
    Stupid NRA and gun advocate mantras:
    "Guns don't kill people – people kill people"... And so much more easily when they have a gun in their hand.
    "If you outlaw guns only the outlaws will have guns"... Didn't know that the police and military were considered criminals.
    "I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military"... So much better to live in a society where psychopaths, terrorists, racists, and neo-Nazis allowed to own guns.
    We should learn from other countries; Australia's tightened gun controls have been followed by remarkable reductions in gun deaths.
    The Supreme Court decision... As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in his dissent, the court has not given any real guidance on whether the right to be armed extends outside the house, whether it includes the right to use a semiautomatic weapon or what registration laws are permissible. There is hope.

    July 24, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  22. keyser

    Count me in. No thinking, rational person could possibly believe in guns and ammo unlimited.

    July 24, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  23. Jose

    The majority of Americans will tell you, if you anti-Second Amendment, gun grabbing Democrats mess with our right to bear arms, it will be the last time you ever serve in Washington. We will vote you out so fast it will make your head spin.

    July 24, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  24. phk46

    Unfortunately it seems there is no longer any chance of congress doing anything about guns.
    Rather, I think it is time for a grass roots effort to counterbalance the NRA.
    Perhaps a new NGCA – National Gun Control Association. It might take a long time, but it can use similar tactics as the NRA.

    July 24, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  25. J-Man

    Americans don't want more gun control. These anti-gun legislators need to be voted out of office. All Democrats need to lose their jobs in November.

    July 24, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
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