A group of Democratic senators are bucking President Obama and calling on Congress to pass new legislation that would establish federal restrictions on large capacity gun magazines. Identical to a separate bill introduced by amendment sponsor Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), the senators’ amendment to the Cybersecurity Act would ban the sale or transfer of large capacity feeders like magazines, belts, feed stripes and drums that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition with the exception of .22 caliber rim fire ammunition.
The amendment was introduced amid growing outcry from police and gun control advocates who want Washington to take a stand on gun control. New York City Mayor Bloomberg prominently demanded action hours after the Aurora theater shooting. The White House pledged to strengthen existing gun rules but has since clarified that the administration will not promote new legislation.
24-year-old James Holmes, the prime suspect in the Aurora shooting, purchased a 100 round drum magazine. Jared Loughner, who shot former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) in 2011 along with 18 others, used an extended magazine that held 33 bullets, and police found two more 15-round magazines in his pockets. Under the federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, these two killers could not have legally purchased these large capacity ammunition feeding devices. On the state level, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York all prohibit the sale of high capacity magazines.
In a floor speech supporting the new amendment, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) attempted to find common ground with gun rights advocates, conceding that liberals in the 1980s and 90s “basically felt there was no right to bear arms,” prompting an extreme reaction from the pro-gun movement. Schumer stressed the need to disprove the misconception that “The Chuck Schumers of the world want to take away your gun, even if it’s the hunting rifle your uncle Willy gave you when you were 14.”
Calling for “rational” gun control measures, Schumer said liberals need to “make it clear once and for all that is not our goal…the Second Amendment does matter, and if you’re an average normal American citizen you have the right to bear arms.”
Rep Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), whose husband was killed in a 1993 mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad, has proposed a similar ban on high-capacity magazines in Congress but does not expect it to pass.