Published January 10, 2011
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., is a longtime gun owner and has often spoken out in support of broad Second Amendment rights. However, the tragic attack on Giffords that left six dead and 14 wounded is reigniting the debate over gun ownership in America.
In 2008 and 2009, Giffords signed on to briefs to the Supreme Court urging justices to overturn gun control laws that severely restricted the access of those who sought to purchase and own firearms. In both cases, the court ruled to roll back the restrictions. At the time, Giffords noted the “long tradition” of gun ownership in the United States adding, “It is a tradition which every law-abiding citizen should be able to enjoy."
Many of Giffords’ Democratic colleagues are taking a different tone, including Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who said Sunday, "Guns kill. And those who glamorize gunplay or worship gun ownership do no service to humanity."
On Monday, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., announced that he is working with Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., on legislation that would ban the manufacture and sale of high-capacity ammunition clips like the one allegedly used by Tucson shooting suspect Jared Loughner.
McCarthy, who lost her husband in a 1993 mass shooting, said the ban is something that was a part of the assault weapons law that expired in 2004. She said she’s been unable to get the prohibition re-enacted because “the House and the Senate are pro-gun houses.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the original author of the assault weapons ban, said Monday that she is also “looking at all the options” and hoping to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on the issue.
States have great latitude in passing their own gun laws, and Arizona is viewed as one of the most permissive. It’s a fact Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, also a Democrat, lamented on Saturday, saying, “I have never been a proponent of letting everybody in this state carry weapons under any circumstances that they want, and that's almost where we are.”
Loughner reportedly did pass a background check, as required in Arizona. There are now questions about his mental health, and whether a more thorough understanding of his possible condition might have affected his ability to purchase a weapon. At the same time, some lawmakers are pushing for action, others are urging caution.
Appearing on “FOX News Sunday,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said the Tucson shooting is “probably about a very sick individual,” adding, “Weapons don’t kill people. It’s the individual that killed these people.”