The latest iteration of the gun control debate on Capitol Hill — touched off after Saturday’s tragic events in Tucson, Ariz. — is set to focus on banning the type of extended handgun magazine clip used in the shooting that left six dead and 14 wounded.
Longtime gun control advocates Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) are at the center of the effort to introduce legislation as early as this week.
McCarthy and Lautenberg are homing in on the ammunition that was used Saturday by Jared Loughner, who is accused of firing more than 20 rounds in an attempt to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who remains in intensive care following brain surgery.
The gun’s high-capacity magazine was illegal under an assault weapons ban that Congress allowed to expire in 2004.
“The only reason to have 33 bullets loaded in a handgun is to kill a lot of people very quickly,” Lautenberg said in a statement. “These high-capacity clips simply should not be on the market.”
The New Jersey Democrat pledged to introduce legislation to prohibit this ammunition when the Senate reconvenes later this month.
McCarthy, who ran for Congress after her husband was killed and her son was seriously injured in a mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad in 1993, is expected to introduce legislation as soon as this week.
Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a fierce proponent of tighter gun laws, is also reviewing how to move forward after the Tucson shooting.
“As the Senate author of the Assault Weapons Ban, I’m looking at all of the options,” the California Democrat said. “I’d like to talk to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle about this.”
Rep. Mike Quigley, another staunch gun control advocate, said he still plans to introduce legislation to close the gun show loophole. The Illinois Democrat met with staff last week to game out their legislative strategy for the bill, which they had planned to unveil in the first two weeks of this session.
Quigley said he couldn’t get a hearing on the legislation in the 111th Congress.
“I don’t know if this will finally trigger it,” he said of the bill’s chances of becoming law. “I’d like to think that something good can come from this. I’d like to think that the rhetoric would simmer down and that public officials would recognize there is a small population out there that can be incited. I don’t know if it’s the case, but it’s certainly possible.”