Acknowledging she faces an uphill fight, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy said she is trying to generate grassroots support for legislation she introduced Tuesday that would prohibit the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips.
McCarthy, a Mineola Democrat who went into politics after her husband was killed and her son injured in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road shootings, said she'll lean heavily on groups like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and a confederation of state gun-control organizations to boost support for the measure.
"Hopefully they will spread the message into each district across the country," she said. "At least the members of Congress here are going to start hearing about this."
McCarthy said she is working quickly to garner support for her legislation, given the attention the gun issue has drawn after the shootings in Tucson on Jan. 8 in which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was severely wounded and six were killed. The man charged in the shooting, Jared Lee Loughner, allegedly used a semiautomatic pistol with a 31-round clip.
"Everybody is paying attention to this now, and a month from now nobody is going to be talking about it," McCarthy told Newsday Tuesday. "We've got to get a grassroots effort."
McCarthy's bill would ban clips containing more than 10 rounds. The Glock used in the Tucson shooting contained more than 30 rounds. Such clips were made illegal in the 1994 assault weapons ban, but that legislation expired without renewal in 2004. The clips were made illegal in New York in 2003.
The National Rifle Association, which has been largely successful fighting gun restrictions over the past two decades, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. The NRA has not commented on the shooting or legislation proposed in the wake of the Tucson shootings other than to express condolences to the victims.
But when the assault weapons ban expired, the NRA called it "the end of a sad era" and dubbed the legislation "political chest-thumping and deceit at its worst."
Although McCarthy's measure has 39 House co-sponsors, including Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights) and Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), no Republicans have announced support. McCarthy said she's put in a call to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), but has yet to speak with the new House leader. A senior Boehner aide said Tuesday that he was unlikely to back the proposal.
McCarthy, however, said she's seen signals of support for the bill from gun owners in her Nassau district, which she said she hopes will translate to GOP backing at the Capitol. "I have a different feeling this time," she said. "Maybe because it was one of our own that got shot. It's going to be a tough push, but I believe I can get it done."
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) plans to introduce a companion to McCarthy's bill next week, spokeswoman Gail Ribas said.