In the wake of the horrific Aurora, Colo. shooting, one of the few vocal proponents of gun control in Congress this week plans to advance a bill to crack down on high-capacity ammunition clips.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) will advance legislation this week to ban the sale of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition at a time, his office confirms to TPM, as was first reported by the Huffington Post.
“[H]e will be pushing it this week,” Lautenberg’s spokesman Caley Gray said in an email.
The bill was introduced in March 2011 following the Tucson, Ariz. shooting spree that wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. It gained little support then and isn’t likely to go much further this time. Like the Arizona shooter, suspected Aurora killer James Holmes used a high-capacity clip, the sale of which was outlawed between 1994 and 2004 during the assault weapons ban.
“Far too many American families have felt the horror of gun violence,” Lautenberg said in a statement. “Our hearts are still heavy with sadness after the tragedy in Colorado, but we need to start today on efforts to prevent the next attack. We should begin by passing my legislation to ban the sale of high-capacity gun magazines.”
Holmes’ shooting spree in a theater reportedly left 12 dead and 58 wounded.
Another gun control proponent, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), called for renewing the assault weapons ban, arguing that “weapons of war don’t belong on the streets.”
“This is a powerful weapon. It had a 100 round drum,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is a man who planned — who went in, and his purpose was to kill as many people as he could in a sold out theater. We’ve got to really sit down and come to grips with what is sold to the average citizen in America.”
On “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said banning high-capacity magazines would infringe on Americans’ constitutional rights.
“People will talk about unusually lethal weapons — that could be potentially a discussion you could have,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is that there are 30-round magazines that are just common. You simply can’t keep these weapons out of the hands of sick, demented individuals who want to do harm — and when you try to do it you restrict our freedoms.”
Expectations for new gun control measures are low, as the voices in favor of tighter gun laws are few and increasingly isolated. President Obama as well as Democratic and Republican leaders have steered clear of the issue in the wake of previous gun-related tragedies, including that involving Giffords, the Fort Hood shootings, and the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin.
Leaders of both parties have called for putting politics aside, indicating that they do not believe a debate about gun control would be appropriate.
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.