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. vet4life63

    Why can we not have hi cap mags. The Govt has them. Why can we not have arms that would do what the founding fathers intended. To overthrow any Govt that becomes Tyrannical and no longer serves the people. Gun control. Touchy subject for the Jews killed under Hitler, for the Native Americans killed at wounded knee, for the Blacks not allowed to own guns and being lynched in America up until the 1950's. Yup a touchy subject for the Russian people under Stalin, for the Turkish people in the early 1900's for the Rwandans massacred in the 1980's and 1990's, for the Millions that have died because of Govt "Gun control". History has shown, that when a Govt bans guns, Wholesale slaughter of the citizens, sooner or later follows.

    July 24, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  2. robert yocum

    leave it to the democrates to want to take our guns. one more big step in to full control of the population. I own guns. nearly ever one I know has at least one. But non of them have ever did any thing stupid with them. most od the crimes and killings are done inner city minority gangs. for money. so they woulnt have to go out and get a real job. and live by the sweat of there brow. but people in the citys. and the people in the rural areas. have a completley differiet view of guns. The city has far more degenerets to cause problems

    July 24, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  3. whta

    Leave our guns alone.

    July 24, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  4. Unit34AHunter

    Menendez et al. just do not understand the 2nd Amendment. It was written to empower citizenry to keep and bear arms comparable to the ones used by police and armed forces. And for good reason. It undermines the power of tyrants. You can't look at the police abuses in New Orleans, NYC, and Los Angeles, or the USA Patriot Act and signing statements that purport to exempt the President from the rule of law (George W. Bush was especially egregious in their use) and tell me that the United States has not become continually more draconian in the last decade.

    July 24, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  5. Rob

    Our problem is not gun control it is media control if we don't hear from the chicken little "sky is falling" over analyzed news we don't need more control of the guns, You cant fix crazy if the Co. shooter did not have guns(BTW I have several guns with 6 & 8 rounds that I can reload in less than 2 seconds) so restricting mag size wont work and last week in China you had a multi victim rampage. So if crazy says kill crazy will kill. I just want the option to live if crazy comes to my space. If someone wants to chip at our 1st amendment rights like our 2nd amendment rights how many of the folks that want to add limits would howl and gnash then want revolt but cant because we have no guns. You weaken one amendment you weaken them all


    July 24, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  6. CorndogsFTW

    Crazy people and criminals will always get guns if they want them. NO MATTER WHAT STUPID LAWS AND POLITICAL GAMES YOU ARE TRYING TO PLAY. I am squarely in the middle and it is my vote you are trying to get, and it is easy to point the finger at the weapon and not the crazy person who wields it.

    By the way, how is the war on drugs going? I heard they were illegal too.

    July 25, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  7. Royce

    If you outlaw Guns, then only outlaws will have them.

    July 25, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  8. volsocal

    If they want to do something tangible, let's break the record set by the 6 years it took to execute McVeigh. Let's get it done in 3 years. Make it public. And make sure he knows he's dieing. Do this to all those convicted of capital crimes, and far more lives will be saved than lost due to incorrect convictions. Now, if you're not really interested in saving lives, just gun control as a part of a strategy to institute a socialist police state, then carry on gun controllers.

    July 25, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  9. Royce

    The proper method of control is to properly screen the people better who are applying for Ammo, and Guns. Seems
    the government don't have any control over anything but bills in the House and Senate.

    July 25, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  10. j.

    Here is the issue, no matter what the law is, no matter what "control" they try to enforce. The guys that want to go nuts and shoot people for no reason will in fact get what is needed and do what they want to do. By making things hatder to get we would then have a "black market" for bigger mags, bigger armor defeating rounds, and so on and so on. THe best bet is to have more Amiricans learn the proper way to carry, and us a gun for personal protection.

    A victim with the capability to shoot back has a better chance then one that can't. if more people learned about gun safty, and carried for personal protection maybe just maybe people wouldnt think it is so easy to just kill as many people as possible.
    Just an Idea, I know some people think if all guns are illegal to have everything would be better, but everyone know from how the sales of drugs work, we can all see it now if that happened your would have "gun gangs' that would sell guns to people, people will always have guns no matter what you might as well let let the good guys have them too.

    July 25, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  11. jim

    The wicked shall be turned into heII, and all the nations that forget God.

    Psalm 9:17

    July 25, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  12. Simon Cohen

    I am supporting 2nd Amendment as intended: single or double barrel arms, with only a single or two bullets ready to fire. If that was not the original intention, why can't we own a shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, an F22, or even a nuclear device? They are arms too. How it is decided what in the 2nd Amendment is "arm" and what is not and who makes that decision? NRA? That is clearly conflict of interests.

    July 25, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  13. Genius

    "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."

    This type of "magazine" not ammunition.

    July 25, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  14. mike from iowa

    the 2nd amendment right tokeep and bear arms is not so we can hunt, it is so we can have a militia, to protect our democracy even from our own gov't.

    July 25, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  15. roshinobi

    The 100 round magazing isn't used by "military and police." It's used by professional target shooters who train with thousands of rounds a day and don't want to spend half the day loading magazines. The military rejected 100-round magazines on Thompsons in WW2, because they jammed too often to be effective in combat – the same kind of jam that happened that night and potentially reduced the number of people this maniac was able to kill.

    July 25, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  16. Matt

    The First Amendment has limits (libel, clear and present danger). The Fourth has extreme limits and the Roberts court isn't done with it yet. We have proven that you can limit the amendments in public interest without demolishing them.

    July 25, 2012 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  17. TheLooneyLeft

    Hey guess what guys, there's a larger silent majority for the right to the 2nd amendment. The dems don't want to go down this path, they will fail as history has proven.

    July 25, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  18. whatislife

    the demorats better just hush our they might lose there seats again like they did under clinton. go puff on that

    July 25, 2012 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  19. chris

    I'm sick of the lack of gun control. Bring back ban on assault weapons and extended magazine clips. I hope someone shoots NRA and their lackeys in congress so they can see how they like it. NRA causes fear to line their pockets and denegrates the word freedom to justify giving murderers weapons.

    July 25, 2012 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  20. Prometheus

    Once again...

    I hate to repeat a cliche mantra, but it is obviously relevant:

    When any gun is outlawed, then only the government and outlaws will have that gun. It's true. Ask Mexico how that's working for them. People murdered basically at will with no way to protect themselves.

    July 25, 2012 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  21. poopfactory

    I'm all about the right to bear arms.

    Well, I personally should be allowed to own any gun I want, not my political enemies, or anyone not of my spiritual beliefs, gays, or mexicans. Retards and crazy people are ok though.

    July 25, 2012 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  22. J.V.Hodgson

    Summary of this awfully long article... say nice words about victims and do nothing, because its an election year and yet another very small in numbers but powerful PAC controls how our so called elected free representatives and Senators are scared sh..tl...s to vote onwith just simple reasonable morality and keep within reasonable, moral, honorable, simple readings of the 2nd amendment.
    Stop the platitudes and do something meaningful and realistic for once.

    July 25, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  23. Tailbolt

    The irony in this discussion on gun control is that the goverment wants to limit our access to anything remotely military or police grade. However the second amendments purpose is to allow the civilian populous to retain the ability to protect itself from the very goverment that wants to take away those arms.

    July 25, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  24. bill

    I am a gun owner and I still don't get why we can't give up the "right" to 100 round drum mags. I just don't get it. I think the NRA is over politicized and does not speak for me. frankly I think we need more gun regulation to keep guns out of the hands of idiots. It frightens me that prescription bottles say not to drive or operate heavy machinery, but nothing about firearms. Why do we need to have guns at political events or bars. Im all for cc (concealed carry), IF a bunch of classes and certification AND re-certification (every year at least) is required. If you have a cw, you should be as good at using it in a situation as a law enforcement professional. It is a skill that takes regular practice. We can't have joe six pack running around with a hidden gun to help his ego. If you are carrying for your and other people's protection, you better be a dammed good shot.

    July 25, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  25. Miroslava

    Guns don't kill, people do. But a gun helps. And, a Big gun, helps a lot! No "puns" intended, just stating the obvious.

    July 25, 2012 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
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