A small group of Democratic lawmakers pushed to ban high-capacity gun magazines Tuesday in the wake of Colorado’s shooting massacre, but congressional leaders are unwilling to touch the volatile issue.
“We have to sound the alarm,” said Senator Frank Lautenberg, who 18 months ago introduced legislation that would have banned 100-round “drum magazines” similar to the one used in the Aurora massacre, only to see that bill die in Congress.
“We cannot let the NRA stop us from commonsense reforms anymore,” he said, referring to the National Rifle Association, the powerful pro-gun lobby that keeps close tabs on lawmakers’ voting records on issues related to the constitutionally-enshrined right to bear arms.
Representative Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed and son wounded by a gunman on a train in 1993, said the issue of restricting the size of gun clips “has nothing to do with Second Amendment rights.”
“We do not have to have citizens armed to the teeth so they can go in and kill innocent people. That is not freedom,” she said.
Calls for a re-examination of America’s gun laws mounted in the aftermath of the tragedy in Aurora that left 12 dead and 58 wounded, as it emerged that the suspected Aurora shooter, James Holmes, bought his four weapons, including an assault rifle with a reported 100-round magazine, legally.
But the White House made it clear at the weekend that President Barack Obama wanted to use “existing law” to ensure weapons do not get into the hands of individuals who should not have them.
Speaker of the House John Boehner said he agreed with the president that they should not “use this horrific event to push for new gun laws.”
Even Senate Majority Harry Reid was adamant that his fellow Democrats’ push for gun control legislation was going nowhere.
“I think we should just wait for a reasonable period of time before people are off making statements about what they should do and what they shouldn’t do,” Reid told reporters.
Pressed on when he envisioned possible action on gun control, or whether he agreed with the legality of 100-round clips, Reid said: “I’m not going to be debating magazine size with you here today.”
Lautenberg and Senator Robert Menendez, both from New Jersey, which has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, made it clear they knew their legislation push was dead in the water, but stressed it was important to start a debate on the toxic issue.
“I hope that this does spark a national conversation about where we go in terms of reasonable gun control measures,” Menendez said.