Politics

Leading Democratic gun control activist says assault weapons ban will not pass

Photo of Alexis Levinson
Alexis Levinson
Political Reporter

WASHINGTON — One of the leading Democratic proponents of gun control said Tuesday that an assault weapons ban would probably not pass the House.

“We’re not gonna get an outright ban,” New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy told reporters Tuesday.

The longtime House member said she would still push for some kind of assault weapons ban, despite the political headwinds.

“I think we should try for it. … I always believe in trying, and who knows, with the public opinion turning our way, it just might work,” she said, acknowledging that passing the ban would be a “heavy lift.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also expressed skepticism that a ban could pass the Republican-controlled House, saying it would only “maybe” pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.

But McCarthy said she expected Reid could pass a package of gun policy reforms in the Senate that does not include the ban. She said that bill would “hopefully” include a ban on high-capacity magazines. (RELATED VIDEO — Ann Coulter: If the White House targets magazines and ammo with executive orders, GOP should close abortion clinics)

“I think he could pass a package, without the ban. And I think he probably thinks that too,” McCarthy said. “But let’s play it out. We’ll see. We’ll see what the president offers tomorrow, and we’ll go from there. Each day is a moving target.”

A bill that started in the Senate, McCarthy said, would help put pressure on House members to pass some kind of gun policy reform. She implied that some Republicans might come on board with the plan, saying that privately, “we’ve had conversations.”

President Barack Obama could help push gun control measures, McCarthy added, by treating the issue like a political campaign.

“What he needs to do is like he ran a campaign – same as President Clinton did. Take it out there to the American people,” she said. (RELATED: Obama to showcase gun control measures on Wednesday)

Vice President Joe Biden suggested that strategy is a possibility during a meeting with congressional leaders on Monday, which McCarthy attended as a member of the House Democratic task force on gun policy.

That task force, which was formed in the wake of the deadly Newton elementary school shooting, will meet with several groups in the next week, including the National Rifle Association, McCarthy said. The NRA did not immediately respond to request for comment about the meeting.

The task force will release its own recommendations regarding gun violence the week of Feb. 8, during the House Democrats’ retreat.

“It’ll be a battle, but it can be done,” McCarthy said. “I think most of us hope that this is gonna be done by the spring.”

Follow Alexis on Twitter