Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., along with Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., refiled a bill that would ban high-capacity ammunition magazines.(Photo: Karen Bleier, AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON -- Supporters of tighter federal gun restrictions moved
quickly Thursday, the first day of the new Congress, introducing bills
in the wake of last month's deadly mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., that
will set up a long and contentious fight over the shape of the nation's
Democratic Reps. Carolyn McCarthy of New York and Diana
DeGette of Colorado refiled the bill they had promoted in earlier
Congresses and said they hoped the environment for gun laws would
improve in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that
killed 20 students and six adults Dec. 14. The bill would ban
high-capacity ammunition magazines.
devices are used to kill as many people as possible in the shortest
amount of time possible, and we owe it to innocent Americans everywhere
to keep them out of the hands of dangerous people," McCarthy said. "We
don't even allow hunters to use them - something's deeply wrong if we're
protecting game more than we're protecting innocent human beings."
a series of highly visible mass shootings in malls, on college
campuses, at a movie theater and at workplaces, Congress has not passed
any significant gun-related regulations since 2007. Since Newtown,
several pro-gun legislators, such as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have
called for greater restrictions.
The National Rifle Association,
which has fought off many attempts to increase gun regulation, said
Thursday it expected the gun control advocates to come "full force" at
"This is something we are prepared to address with facts," said Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman.
think it's really put a lot of people over the edge," DeGette said of
the violence in Newtown and a mass shooting in July at a theater in
Aurora, Colo., her home state. "Now is the time to take a tough,
principled look at what we need to do."
In addition to the
magazine ban, McCarthy and DeGette reintroduced a bill that would stop
the sale of ammunition online. The measure was introduced last year
after the Aurora shooting.
More bills are expected soon in the
Senate that will have House counterparts, said Shams Tarek, a McCarthy
spokesman. They include the Fix Gun Checks Act by Sen. Charles Schumer,
D-N.Y., which would close loopholes that allow gun sales at shows
without background checks and strengthen those checks. Sen. Dianne
Feinstein, D-Calif., has said she will reintroduce a ban on the
ownership on assault weapons.
Feinstein sponsored the first ban, which was passed in 1994 and expired in 2004.
White House, which has been quiet on gun-related legislation until
Newtown, is likely to issue its plan Jan. 15. Last month, President
Obama asked Vice President Biden, who helped pass the 1994 assault
weapons ban while a senator, to lead the administration's effort to send
proposals to Congress.
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
Violence, said the group is focused on keeping the momentum for this
debate going while lawmakers sort out the details of what can be done.
administration has shown tremendous leadership on this issue, there are
a number of Congress people that have come out in the same way," he
said. "While we're applauding every well-intentioned effort, we're
looking at the issue holistically. We are not investing entirely yet in
every one single solution until we really analyze all the (proposals)."
these measures to the floor in both chambers could be extremely
difficult. No Republican has expressed support for specific gun control
measures, and the NRA has made it clear it will vehemently oppose any
effort to curb gun rights.
In response to the Newtown shooting,
the NRA has proposed that the government pay for armed guards in schools
to prevent school shootings.
Support for stricter gun laws has
risen since the Sandy Hook shooting, according to a recent USA
TODAY/Gallup Poll. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said they
backed tougher restrictions, an increase from 43% in October 2011. The
poll also showed a split, as 47% said new laws were necessary while 46%
said they preferred enforcing current laws.