New York Dem Taunts Gillibrand on Gun Control Positions

Published May 13, 2009


Three Democratic representatives from New York had a fellow state Democrat, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, in their crosshairs Wednesday as they unveiled new gun control legislation in Washington. 

Gillibrand, the former congresswoman who replaced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Senate, has a record as a gun rights supporter, and her colleagues on the House side are holding that against her with an election on the horizon. 

The three representatives, Carolyn McCarthy, Steve Israel and Carolyn Maloney -- all potential challengers to Gillibrand in the Democratic primary next year -- gathered Wednesday to mark the introduction of a bill that would prohibit anyone on the terrorist "no fly list" from buying a gun. 

But the session with reporters quickly turned to a discussion of Gillibrand's wavering gun control positions. (Gillibrand recently called for the repeal of a policy, which she originally supported, that requires records on gun background checks to be destroyed after 24 hours.) 

"Don't get me started. It is true that she has changed her opinion on a lot of the legislation that has to do with gun violence. Basically throw up an issue and she has changed her mind on it," McCarthy said. 

Asked whether any of the three representatives would challenge Gillibrand, she said: "No one so far has said they're actually running. But we're thinking about it." 

"I think Carolyn (McCarthy) would make a great senator," Maloney added.

McCarthy, a fervent supporter of gun control laws, said she hopes the mere threat of running against Gillibrand will influence her positions on gun control. 

"In that way, I think that I've been very instrumental in changing her mind on the gun issue," McCarthy said. "And if I have to move to every other state and continue to be threatening to every congressperson, then maybe I should do that." 

Gillibrand has been more in line with her Democratic colleagues on the issue of gun control since joining the Senate. 

She recently co-sponsored the Senate version of a bill that McCarthy, along with Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., introduced to require background checks on all firearm sales at gun shows. 

"As a mom and a lawmaker, Senator Gillibrand has always opposed gun violence and supported measures that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people," Gillibrand spokesman Matt Canter said in an e-mail, in response to McCarthy's remarks. 

"While gun violence was not an issue in her rural congressional district, Senator Gillibrand now represents many communities around the state that are affected by gun violence nearly every day," he said. 

Canter said Gillibrand is working with gun control groups and Capitol Hill colleagues on these issues. 

But McCarthy also plans to introduce an assault-weapons ban in the coming weeks. 

McCarthy reportedly has called that bill a "test" for Gillibrand. 

FOX News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.