Four Dems brave gun fight

As the rest of their party ducks the issue, four Democrats call for a ban on large-capacity magazine clips

Topics: Gun Control, Guns,

Four Dems brave gun fight (Credit: iStockphoto/Baxternator)

Four Democratic lawmakers faced reporters and TV cameras at a press conference in the Capitol today to push for “common-sense” gun control legislation in the wake of last week’s shooting in Colorado. New Jersey Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette and New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy came out in support of Lautenberg’s bill to ban large-capacity ammunition clips. Lautenberg said it was ludicrous that this kind of military-grade equipment is available to anyone, as they have zero hunting or recreational purpose and are clearly designed for killing people. He pointed out that nearly every major mass shooting in recent years has involved these kinds of magazines.

Menendez said that everyone respected Americans’ Second Amendment rights, but that there are limits to those rights, just are there are on First Amendment rights: “I’m a lawyer and one of the first things they teach you in law school is that we have freedom of speech, but you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a movie theater.” He said large-capacity magazine clips and high-powered assault rifles were a bridge too far. “You wouldn’t shoot a deer with 100 bullets,” he said, explaining there was no “reasonable” need for them. Menendez added that it was ridiculous that alleged shooter James Holmes was able to “build an arsenal with the click of a mouse,” a reference to the fact that he purchased thousands of rounds of ammunition and tactical gear online.

DeGette, whose Denver district borders Aurora, noted that in the time she’s been in Congress since 1997, “there have been 23 moments of silence for those killed. And we’ll have another one this afternoon.”

Of course, the big question hanging over the push is, why bother? Republicans are certain to block any attempts to pass even the most modest and common-sense gun regulations like Lautenberg’s ban on high-capacity magazines, let alone a new Assault Weapons Ban, or closing the gun show loophole. Even Democrats are clearly less than eager to take the ball and run with it on gun control — just four showed up today — and they face an extremely formidable foe in the gun lobby.



Lautenberg pushed back against the “resignation to the futility of our mission,” saying it was the right thing to do and lawmakers must fight for it. Menendez acknowledged that it was unlikely they’d get something done today, but said that every major legislative accomplishment in this country has taken “years” and only succeeded thanks to dogged persistence in the face of certain defeat. “Years” seems to be the time frame for gun control too, at best, though trends have been moving the wrong way, lately.

Countering those who accuse advocates of politicizing the tragedy, DeGette said now is the “perfect opportunity to get something done,” because people understand the consequences of today’s broken gun laws.

The four lawmakers were clearly wary of criticizing President Obama, who has suggested that he’s not interested in pushing any new gun laws. Instead, Menendez said he hoped Obama would join them in an effort to “marshal opinion” in favor of stricter laws.

McCarthy, whose husband and son were both shot on the Long Island Railroad in 1993, took the question personally. “You’re basically asking, shouldn’t we all just give up?” she said to a reporter. “I don’t believe that and I don’t believe I would still be in Congress if I did.”

“I came to Congress on that one issue, to reduce gun violence,” she continued. “And I would love for this to be my last press conference … but as long as I have a voice, I will fight on this issue.”

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>