New gun control legislation in Congress unlikely
January 11th, 2011
06:55 PM ET
10 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. 100% ETH

    Being bulled in School, could cause stress and mental illness;

    Individual workplace Harassment, could cause stress and mental illness;

    Racial bias and discrimination, could cause stress and mental illness;

    Preventing/denying someone not towork, not to continued education, not to participate in public events, excluding some groups not to be the part of good and productive societies, could cause stress and mental illness.

    These the above mentioned, still happening in our neighbourhoods, in our streets, in our work places, in our residences and Schools.

    NOW, tell me who FAILED to address and to FIX the PROBLEMS???!!!???

    As usual, again & again & again...we keep crying after tragedies happened!!!

    Why do you think we are taking a vaccination prior to the diseases???? But, the way I all of us, we want to be vaccinated after we are being affected and some of us dies.

    It is like the Dog taking back its own puked.

    I feel deeply sad, for what happened in Tucson, Arizona.

    God Bless.

    January 11, 2011 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  2. Howard

    Whenever something like this happens, all the far left gun control wacos come out from under their rocks, and try limit our freedoms, and pass laws and restrictions that the rest of us have to live by. Hopefully, when things calm down, they will go back under the rocks they came from.

    January 11, 2011 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  3. Terry

    As a responsible gun owner, I fully agree that some fine tuning of our gun laws is necessary – there is no real reason why a civilian needs a 30 round clip for a handgun, and there are many more weapons issues to address at the same time. Although I agree with some common sense limitations, I feel compelled to add the old saw about guns don't kill people – people kill people. Those who want to kill will find a "weapon" of some sort – from bombs to cross-bows to ordinary hunting bows and baseball bats (not to mention poisons and other chemicals). The key is to address the rampant and random violence issues we've been ignoring for years, and to pay more attention to public mental health awareness and treatment. Make some laws that make some sense.

    January 11, 2011 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  4. Carolyn

    What needs to happen is, stop letting people buy these guns that have 30 rounds of fire......These guns should only be sold to the Military. If you are not active in the Military, you should not be able to get these kinds of guns. If this guy had a pistol or smaller gun, he may not have be able to kill and injure so many people. There should not be any gun regulation other than to stop selling the guns that have 30 rounds of fire. It is crazy for anyone to sell these guns to anyone. They are the people that are crazy...the sellers of these guns. STOP SELLING THESE 30 ROUND MACHINE GUNS TO PEOPLE....COME ON!!!! Get a clue people....

    January 11, 2011 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  5. Chris

    I support the right to self defense. But no civilian has a legitimate need for high capacity magazines or assault rifles. They are not for self defense, they're for slaughter.

    January 11, 2011 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  6. GonzoinHouston

    When the NRA sends out mail and calls seeking donations they still describe Obama and the Democrats as the "most anti-gun rights administration in history". They claim repeatedly that the democrats have a plan to at least limit, if not comfiscate all firearms, etc. The truth is that the Obama administration is not working actively to reduce gun owners' rights.

    January 11, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  7. PatrickB.

    I do support the right to bear arms but I also believe there needs to be some reasonable limits put on the firearms readily available to the public. Personally I think a reasonable question to ask about any firearm or accessory (clips, scopes, etc.) would be "Is there a legitimate and reasonable need to own it?" Most firearms can easily answer yes to this question for either hunting, recreation or self defense reasons.

    That said I do not see the need for a high capacity pistol clip for the general public. Same for truly automatic firearms (Weapons capable of sustained fire with a single trigger pull). Both have no legitimate use except to inflict large amounts of harm in a short period. I cannot see a self defense argument passing the smell test. Even if the bad guys have a high capacity clip with good aim you don't need a lot of bullets to stop them. I ask those who support complete freedom to own any firearm without limit to explain their side. I am honestly interested in the reasoning behind your side of the argument.

    January 11, 2011 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  8. Yoyall

    Insanity reigns in America. Unbelievable. How many more have to die before we wake up. Obvious fact: accessibility to guns makes this kind of crime easy, and having lots of guns doesn't make you any safer. Look around, America, to countries that do it better. Duh.

    January 11, 2011 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  9. Thisisnt1984

    Glad to see that people's rights are winning. The Government should not disarm the people. This isn't 1984.

    January 11, 2011 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  10. Marie MD

    Does anyone know what percentage of Americans enjoy killing animals? I bet it's pretty low so I will never understand how a small group of people can hold the rest of the country hostage.
    So the nra says that it's inappropriate right now to speak about this. When are they going to talk about it? When more people continue to die because of their high paid lobbyists? Talk about hypocrites!!!!

    January 11, 2011 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  11. Wayne

    Carracci you are bitter old man! Blaming Obama for the tone in washington is like blaming Gifford for getting shot! What is wrong with you!!??

    January 11, 2011 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  12. Marie MD

    cnn how about a little bit about plastic guns being allowed to be sold? What about high capacity magazines for guns?

    January 11, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
1 2