ABC News' John R. Parkinson reports:
In the aftermath of the attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords earlier this month, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have proposed a cluster of gun control measures ranging from a ban to knowingly carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of certain high-profile government officials to a proposal to allow members of Congress to carry firearms in the U.S. Capitol.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy formally introduced her own bill on the House floor Tuesday that would ban high-capacity ammunition clips like the one Jared Loughner used to gun down 19 individuals in the Tucson shooting Jan. 8.
McCarthy, who is regarded as one of the toughest gun-control proponents on Capitol Hill, has dedicated her congressional service to reducing gun violence after a tragic incident in 1993 in which gunman Colin Ferguson unleashed a hail of bullets aboard a packed Long Island Railroad commuter train, and used 15-round magazines to kill six people, including McCarthy’s husband, and injured 19 more, including her son.
“I know what it’s like to have tragedy brought to your life in a split second by a madman with high-capacity ammunition magazines,” McCarthy said. “I’m working to stop it from happening again. We need comprehensive reform to reduce the number of people hurt or killed by gunfire in America, but one simple way we can do that is by keeping the worst tools of mass murder away from the general public. This nation has come together before to support this simple, commonsense measure, and it is the law in several states right now. It is a small sacrifice that law-abiding gun owners can make once again in order to increase everyone’s safety.”
Like Loughner’s rampage in Tucson earlier this month, the gunman that killed McCarthy’s husband was not stopped until bystanders tackled him as he stopped shooting in order to reload – strengthening the case for smaller magazines with fewer bullets, according to McCarthy.
McCarthy, D-New York, says her bill would set a 10-round-maximum standard that’s already in place in four other states, and was a nationwide standard for a decade before the previous federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004.
Loughner’s Glock 19 semiautomatic handgun was outfitted with an extended clip that carried 31 rounds.
“All I’m saying is we need to stop the terror,” McCarthy said, noting that shootings involving high-capacity clips seem to occur more frequently now than in the past. “How many people have to die because of these clips?”
According to McCarthy, her legislation would also close a loophole in the previous ban in which magazines manufactured before the law went into effect could still be sold or transferred.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer says he has been a longtime supporter of bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and that if there had been a ban in place prior to the Tucson shooting, Loughner might have been stopped earlier and lives might have been saved.
“High-capacity clips, in my view, essentially have the purpose of taking a lot of lives quickly,” Hoyer, D-Maryland, said. “If this individual, had he had a 12 capacity clip [instead of 31 rounds], there might have been a lot of lives saved because he was gotten under control by heroic people standing around him when he changed clips, when he was trying to change clips.”
Hoyer said he believes that in the aftermath of the Giffords shooting, there will be an added appetite in the House for some form of gun control legislation. Which ones of the proposed bills are voted into law will depend on largely on the GOP majority’s support, according to Hoyer.
“In Maryland, we have had, something which I voted for in the seventies when I was in the State Senate, constraints, and I have not had any complaints from hunters or sportsmen and women on the controls we have on handguns, in particular, as opposed to sports guns, rifles and long guns,” Hoyer said.
McCarthy, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1996, said she has more than 40 co-sponsors for the bill so far, and that while no Republicans have stepped up to support her proposed ban on high-capacity clips, McCarthy is working to gain Republican support, has requested a meeting with Speaker of the House John Boehner, and is also working to set up a meeting with President Obama to discuss the measure.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, plans to introduce similar legislation in the Senate later this month.
“High-capacity gun magazines are tools for murder. This common-sense legislation would make it more difficult for someone to carry out a killing spree,” Lautenberg said in a statement. “Before 2004, these ammunition magazines were banned, and they must be banned again. I am proud to partner on this effort with Rep. McCarthy, who has worked tirelessly throughout her career to curb gun violence in our nation.”