WASHINGTON - A longtime Senate gun control advocate announced plans Monday to introduce legislation banning high-capacity ammunition clips like the one linked to a weekend shooting that left six dead and an Arizona congresswoman gravely wounded.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said he would introduce the measure to re-establish a prohibition that lapsed in 2004 on clips that feed more than 10 rounds at a time.
"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 said in a written statement announcing his plans. He said he would file the bill when the Senate returns to session later this month.
Officials have said that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot in the head over the weekend by an assailant armed with a semi-automatic pistol and a 33-round clip. Six people were killed in the attack, and the congresswoman is one of 13 others who were shot. She remains hospitalized in Tucson, Ariz., after surgery for a wound to the head.
Lautenberg said in his statement that the clips like the one alleged assailant Jared Loughner is said to have used were banned from 1994-2004. The legislation, which applies to several types of automatic and semi-automatic weapons, expired and was not renewed.
The New Jersey senator issued his statement as the Violence Policy Center said the same model weapon that Loughner carried was used in the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech. "Similar semi-automatic firearms with high-capacity magazines have been used in most major mass shootings in the United States in the past 30 years,"' said the group, which supports gun control legislation.
Attempts to limit the manufacture and sale of guns are almost always controversial in Congress, in part because the influential National Rifle Association generally opposes them. Democrats have been the principal supporters of such legislation, but given the complicated political terrain, their attempts have waned in recent years. Republicans, who now control the House, have generally opposed such measures.