The top two Republicans in the House of Representatives rejected gun control legislation soon after it was announced by a senior GOP congressman, effectively dooming its hopes for consideration.
The bill, unveiled by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on Tuesday, would have banned people from carrying guns within 1,000 feet of elected officials in Congress. It had the support of New York City mayor and outspoken gun-control advocate Michael Bloomberg.
His announcement came days after the tragic shootings of twenty people in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday that left six dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) badly injured.
A spokesman for Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) told The Hill later in the day that the new House speaker will oppose the legislation.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) initially demurred, as his office declined to comment.
But when the New York Daily News later inquired, his spokesman Brad Dayspring said Cantor won’t support it. “The proposal wouldn’t have prevented this tragedy, or other mentally unstable individuals or criminals from committing horrific acts,” Dayspring explained.
For gun-control legislation to be put forth in Congress is in itself rare as of recent years, but it’s particularly remarkable coming from a Republican, whose party has positioned itself squarely on the side of the gun-rights issue.
King, who is chairman of the homeland security committee, presented his bill as a means to improve public safety for elected leaders.
Members of Congress, he said, “do represent the people who elect them, and it’s essential, if we’re going to continue to have contact, that the public who are at these meetings are ensured of their own safety.”
And King isn’t the only one considering gun-control measures in the wake of the Arizona murders. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) are planning legislation that would ban high-capacity ammunition clips, like the one used by the Arizona shooter, which he purchased legally.
US law currently forbids guns within 1,000 feet of schools.