Tucson Massacre: McCarthy Plans to Introduce Gun Legislation

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Spurred on by Saturday’s horrific attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), New York Democrat Rep. Carolyn McCarthy has promised to introduce new gun control legislation in the House, reports Politico.

The extended magazine on the Glock 19 Loughner used was illegal under the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. Gun control advocates hope the tragedy might provoke fresh discussion on the ban, and on the ability to buy weapons that appear designed for mass murder. “He had an additional magazine capability. That’s not what a hunter needs,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) told Politico. “That’s not what someone needs to defend their home. That’s what you use to hunt people.” Preventing people with mental health issues from buying guns could also be a focus of the legislation.

McCarthy and her staff hope to bring a bill to the floor as early as Monday that addresses the high-capacity ammunition clips used by alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner (read Nick Baumann’s exclusive interview with a close friend of Loughner’s here). Pennsylvania Democrat Robert Brady also plans to introduce a bill that would make it a crime to use language or symbols that might be interpreted as a threat to any federal official.

For McCarthy, gun violence is deeply personal: her husband was killed in a 1993 shooting on a Long Island commuter train. Since then, she’s been a fierce advocate for gun control. “Again, we need to look at how this is going to work, to protect people, certainly citizens, and we have to look at what I can pass,” McCarthy told Politico. “I don’t want to give the NRA—excuse the pun—the ammunition to come at me either.”

Update: In a statement released on Monday, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced his intention to work with McCarthy on a bill that would prohibit the manufacture and sale of high-capacity ammunition feeding devices like the high-capacity magazine used by Loughner. Lautenberg’s bill will ban ammunition clips that have a capacity of, or could be converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunitioin—which, up till 2004, was the law.

“The only reason to have 33 bullets loaded in a handgun is to kill a lot of people very quickly. These high-capacity clips simply should not be on the market,” Lautenberg says in the statement. “Before 2004, these ammunition clips were banned, and they must be banned again. When the Senate returns to Washington, I will introduce legislation to prohibit this type of high-capacity clip.”

Read our exclusive interview with a friend who describes Loughner’s family, bizarre dream journal, and his obsession with Rep. Giffords. Full coverage of the shooting and its aftermath is here.

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