Since Saturday's shooting in Arizona, we've heard some uplifting calls to rise above the rancor, talk of security worries for members of Congress and even a lesson in the term "blood libel." Yet we've heard little of the gun control debate that often follows such massacres. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., who lost her husband to gun violence, is introducing a ban on high-capacity magazines like the one in the Glock 19 (example above) allegedly used by Jared Lee Loughner during his rampage. Companion legislation is also expected in the Senate.
But McCarthy's bill has essentially been labled Doomed to Fail because of Republican control of the House and the political consensus in support of the National Rifle Association -- even among many Democrats. We all remember Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., using his rifle love to help get himself elected (and show his distaste for the cap and trade bill), but he's far from the only Democrat whose Second Amendment priorities helped the party make inroads outside urban areas in recent (pre-GOP tsunami) years. Among them is Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, who in an interview on Monday said he didn't see any serious reconsideration of gun laws on the horizon.
"I think that the legislative and political landscape is such that you’re not going to see that discussion, and you really haven’t seen much of it," Altmire said. "It's pretty clear that the Second Amendment is strong in the voting population and Congress. I don’t see a move toward gun control, but I think you’re going to see a discussion about how to identify these things and prevent them from happening based on the individual, not their weapon of choice."
In Harrisburg, the political climate is perhaps even more pro-gun, with GOP control of both Legislative chambers and the governor's mansion. CeaseFirePA president Phil Goldsmith released a statement invoking the 2009 Stanton Heights shooting and urging lawmakers to reinstate the assault weapons ban -- which would have covered Richard Poplowski's and Loughner's weapons. But Goldsmith added that the battle for CeaseFire and other anti-gun lobbies will be just to maintain the status quo in the commonwealth's gun laws.
“With a new General Assembly elected in Pennsylvania, many with the backing of the gun lobby, and a new Governor about to be sworn in, Pennsylvania’s own concealed carry laws may well be in danger from attempts to weaken it rather than be strengthened," he said in a statement. “While the tragedy of Arizona is still very fresh in our minds and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families – it is essential that we remain vigilant in the weeks and months to come against any such actions to weaken our gun laws in Pennsylvania.”