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Gun Control After Arizona: Will NRA Block a High-Ammo Clip Ban?

4 years ago
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Speaking at the memorial service in Tucson, Ariz., President Obama said that it is human nature to look for explanations and to search for solutions when something horrific happens, as it did on an otherwise ordinary Saturday morning in a Safeway parking lot. The volley of shots that left six dead and 14 others wounded has prompted calls for tighter gun laws, and as Obama spoke, advocates of gun control listened closely for some gesture of support in their direction. The closest the president came, and it was coded at best, is when he declared, "Yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future."
Among those old assumptions is the belief that the taste for guns is in America's DNA, and that any attempt to rein in the gun culture will be blocked by the National Rifle Association. Few Republicans have any interest in gun control legislation, and Democrats are scared of the NRA, which means that any effort to restrict the size of ammunition clips sold to private citizens is doomed. Conventional wisdom says it is futile to advance gun regulation in the Congress -- the votes aren't there.
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Center to Restrict Gun Violence, disagrees, and he's been in the trenches a long time, first as a politician and Republican mayor of Fort Wayne, Ind., and since 2006 as top advocate for a cause that most elected officials prefer to ignore.
Ammo clip on handgunI asked Helmke who, besides New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, would support new firearms regulations. McCarthy's husband was killed and her son grievously wounded in a 1993 gun rampage on the Long Island Railroad, so she has more than a passing interest in the subject. "More than Carolyn," Helmke said, ticking off California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, and Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, all Democrats and sympathetic to the cause. "Our challenge now is to find some rural Democrats, and Republicans," he said, adding, "Actually, our real challenge is to get the president to weigh in."
The Brady Center was founded by James and Sarah Brady in the wake of the assassination attempt on President Reagan and the gunshot wound to the head that James Brady survived, but which sidelined him as Reagan's press secretary. In the years since, shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech spurred calls for more controls on guns, but little was done. Since Obama took office, the firearms laws in many places, including Arizona, have gotten more lax, and the Supreme Court has ruled that gun bans in the District of Columbia and Chicago are unconstitutional.
This time is different, says Helmke, and here's why:
1) These gunshots hit closer to home. "I can't remember the last time a congressman was targeted here," he says -- not since 1978 and the death of California Rep. Leo Ryan in the Jonestown massacre. And the Tucson victims -- a recently engaged 30-year-old, a beloved federal judge, a 9-year-old girl born on 9/11 -- are such storied figures that unless someone were writing a movie script, they'd be accused of making this up, says Helmke.
2) The legislation that McCarthy is proposing in the House and Lautenberg in the Senate -- a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips -- is narrowly drawn and was once law as part of the assault weapons ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004. "It was a law that worked, and it's directly related to what happened in Tucson," says Helmke. Loughner was tackled after firing 31 bullets as he stopped to put in a new clip. If magazine clips were limited to ten rounds, as McCarthy proposes, Loughner would have been shut down earlier and the damage lessened.
3) The fact the Loughner was able to obtain a gun legally shows how weak our laws are. The fact that he was dangerous enough to be rejected by the military and get kicked out of algebra class should prompt congressional hearings to investigate the background checks that are in place, and examine what events can be flagged to tip off potentially violent behavior. The current bar for the background check for the no-buy list is too low.
There have been few victories on the gun control side of the policy agenda since 1993 and 1994, when Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Protection bill and the assault weapons ban. The proposal now being advanced is so narrow, affecting only the size of ammunition clips, that Helmke says, "If we could win on that, it would show that you can pass gun control and the sky doesn't fall in."

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Anybody else had enough? Well, then, run for Congress and introduce the
following Resolution, in every Congress until it passes:

(pursuant to Article V of the Constitution,
format is from H.J.RES. 438, 102nd Congress):
- - - -

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States repealing
the right to keep and bear arms.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of
America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein),
That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of
the United States, which shall be valid for all intents and purposes as part
of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the
several States at any time after the date of its submission for ratification:


1. Any right to keep and bear arms, whether under the Second Amendment to this
Constitution, or under some pre-existing doctrine of natural law or common
law or otherwise, or under Constitution or laws of any State, is repealed.

2. The privilege to keep and bear arms throughout the United States shall be
under such Regulations as the Congress shall make."
- - - -
Best wishes, --Mike ,

February 18 2011 at 1:13 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Any person who wants to become proficient at rapid fire can unload a spent magazine and reload ready to fire again in a split second, that is common knowledge.

January 30 2011 at 9:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Well, the name "McCarthy" sounds familiar, doesn't it?

January 30 2011 at 5:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Any gun control is wrong, excepting military-grade weapons. We would never have heard of Brady if he hadn't gotten shot. Regan was shot, too, but you didn't see him wailing about gun control. If you control the size of magazines, criminals will simply carry more magazines. Why don't you people get it? The Constitution guarantees us the right to protect ourselves against tyrannical government. So...who's trying to take our guns away? Magazine restrictions is Baby-step One. Step Two is more restrictions. Step Three and beyond is confiscation of all firearms. Execute all murdering criminals...expeditiously, not in 30 years, and bring gun crimes to a schreeching halt.

January 30 2011 at 5:19 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Why does anyone think the way to have to stopped this murder is another law ? The laws we have already passed should have stopped this disturbed young man from buying a gun. Why not push to enforce our current gun laws and go one step further. If someone is denied the purchase of a weapon then the local and state police should be notified immediately. Followed by an immediate investigation into the background of that person to determine his or her mental stability. Those 2 simple steps would have alerted authorities to a potential threat. Any competition shooter knows the clip spring can be weakened by loanding the maximum rounds and not using the clip right away. The killer's lack of knowledge probably saved lives. This killer was probably not someone who had fired at a lot of targets so he would not have been observed at a range. He walked up very close to his intended victims and fired into a crowd. Again he seems not to be experienced at aiming so he would have to be recognized as a threat prior to his violent act. We must enforce background checks on the purchase of weapons. This will not stop criminals who steal or buy guns outside the law. Those criminals will have weapons even if there were no sales allowed. We can however use the current laws to alert us to people that are unstable and have some record of instability where they work, study, or live. Those people can be recognized and any person they express anger toward can be notified. This would allow the potential victim to take some protective action and opt to stay in the loop knowledge wise of further findings. A single armed body guard could have honed in on this unstable man as he approached the crowd and stopped the shooter before he fired so many times into an unknowing crowd. We can also work on limiting the numbing violence that so many kids are exposed to in electronic games. Pretending to kill innocent people in games conditions kids to the horror of killing and should be restricted to everyone under 18 and enforced.

January 21 2011 at 1:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

Could the liberals irrational phobia of incarceration of criminals and the mentally unbalanced be a contributor to the problem?...

January 20 2011 at 9:45 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

It's the liberal plan. It's not the technical aspects of firearms that is the problem. Bayonet lugs, pistol grips, magazine capacity,caliber, ad nauseum. This is just a smokescreen. If you outlaw the technical features you ultimately outlaw the firearms.

January 20 2011 at 9:42 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

first ban high capacity mags of 30 rds, then why does any one need 10 rds.? how about anything over 5 rds. still too many? well nobody needs more than 1 bullet. so first limit the police to guns that hold only 1 bullet at a time. It would set a good example for the rest of us. you know the old saying led by example.It would show no one need have a magazine that holds any extra ammo. Next we don't need any stinking bullets when there are perfectly good smooth bore muzzleloaders that were used when the Constitution was written isn't that what you liberals claim? that not the technology in 1760? or do you only use that argument when it suits your purpose?

January 17 2011 at 11:41 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

As an NRA LIFE MEMBER I CERTAINLY HOPE SO! After years of military service and decades as a LAWFUL gun owner and concealed carry permit holder in six different states, I am absolutely unwilling to give up MY rights because of some LUNATIC in AZ who could have been stopped DEAD in his tracks with some simple SECURITY procedures. If this women could be nearly killed by this BOZO, what would happen if an agent of an enemy govt. or terrorist decided to wipe out our congress? Perhaps one event at a time. We are indeed supposed to be a free society, not a POLICE STATE! It is ironic though that while the President and Vice President never go out without scores of Secret Service, both visible and hidden, we have Congress members and Senators without so much as a "rent a cop!"

January 17 2011 at 3:23 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply

The Arizona shooter obtained his gun *legally* ! What the hell does this tell you ?

January 17 2011 at 2:47 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Juli's comment

What it tells me is that all his questionable behavior was never recorded by the courts or LAW enforcement in the TUCSON area. Sounds like Sheriff DUPNIK messed UP!

January 17 2011 at 3:19 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply

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