Little pull for stricter gun laws

WASHINGTON — It was an all-too familiar scene: Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., standing in the U.S. Capitol before a packed room of TV cameras launching another effort to pass gun-control legislation in the wake of a mass shooting.

“We have introduced legislation to ban large ammunition magazines, and all we hear is silence,” she lamented Tuesday.

The congresswoman, whose husband was killed and son wounded by a gunman on a Long Island train in 1993, was joined by three Democratic colleagues, including Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, in calling for tougher gun laws in the wake of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting, which left 12 dead and 58 wounded.

DeGette, noting that the House has had 23 moments of silence for gun violence since she was first elected in 1996, with another planned Tuesday night for the victims of the Aurora shooting, asked, “How many more moments of silence will we have to have?”

But the muted response from other lawmakers underscored the long odds gun-control advocates face. The Republican-controlled House has supported National Rifle Association efforts to expand gun rights, and many Democrats are skittish about taking up the issue as they court rural votes.

“The White House has made clear they’re not going to use this horrific event to push for new legislation. I agree,” House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he didn’t see “any movement in the direction of thinking that stricter gun control laws would likely have prevented this horrible occurrence in Colorado.”

An NRA spokesman said: “We believe that now is the time for families to grieve and for the community to heal. There will be an appropriate time down the road to engage in political and policy discussions.”

No new legislation was proposed Tuesday. McCarthy introduced a bill after last year’s shooting of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in Tucson, targeting ammunition magazines containing more than 10 rounds. But the measure has languished for more than year.

“This has nothing to do with Second Amendment rights,” McCarthy said. Pointing to a photo of a high-capacity ammunition magazine similar to the one used in the Colorado shooting rampage, she said, “This is meant to kill as many people as possible in the shortest period of time.”

The weapons and bullets used by the gunman were legally purchased, including more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition bought over the Internet, according to authorities, who recovered an AR-15 assault-style rifle, a shotgun and two Glock pistols. Suspect James E. Holmes is being held in the massacre.

The high-capacity ammunition magazines would have been outlawed under the 1994 federal assault weapons ban that Congress allowed to lapse in 2004.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who wrote the now-expired assault weapons ban, said in a statement: “Weapons of war do not belong on our streets, plain and simple.” She said that she supports efforts to ban high-capacity magazines and is considering other gun control legislation.

Despite the long odds, the lawmakers said they remain undaunted.

“We cannot let the NRA stop us from common-sense reforms anymore,” Lautenberg said.

Menendez said he hoped to at least stoke a new national debate about gun control.

Asked about a comment by Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey that politicians were grandstanding by bringing up gun control so soon after the Colorado tragedy, McCarthy responded, “I have the right to try to reduce gun violence because I’ve been through it.” She also recounted watching her son learn to walk again.

“I’d be more than happy to be here at my last press conference,” she said.


&Copy;2012 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

More in Local News

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Most Read