Lawmakers introduced nearly a dozen gun control bills on the first day of the new Congress, about a fortnight after 20 children and six adults were killed in a mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn.
With the debate revived after last month's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, gun control advocates are hopeful. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) re-filed a bill on Day One of the 113th Congress on Thursday to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, according to USA Today.
McCarthy's husband was killed and her son critically injured in a shooting on the Long Island Railroad in New York in 1993. DeGette's district includes Columbine High School, where two gunmen killed 13 people in 1999.
"These devices are used to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time possible, and we owe it to innocent Americans everywhere to keep them out of the hands of dangerous people," McCarthy was quoted as saying. "We don't even allow hunters to use them – something's deeply wrong if we're protecting game more than we're protecting innocent human beings."
"I think it's really put a lot of people over the edge," DeGette said, referring to the Dec. 14 Connecticut Shooting and last July's Aurora theater mass shooting in her home state. "Now is the time to take a tough, principled look at what we need to do."
McCarthy is also sponsoring legislation that would require background checks for all gun sales – including at gun shows – and ban online sales of ammunition, according to CNN.
Similar bills are expected soon in the Senate, where Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) plans to introduce a bill to ban the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of more than 100 firearms.
Feinstein's bill would also ban certain semiautomatic rifles, handguns and shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine, and semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds, CNN reported. The assault weapons ban Feinstein helped pass in 1994 expired in 2004.
Bills sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) to ban high-capacity magazines and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to enhance background checks and close the gun show loophole have counterparts in the lower chamber.
The 4-million-member National Rifle Association, which has fiercely opposed attempts to increase gun regulation, has said the coming of the gun control advocates in "full force" at the NRA was expected. "This is something we are prepared to address with facts," Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman, was quoted as saying.
After the Sandy Hook shooting last month, President Barack Obama asked Vice President Biden, who helped pass the 1994 assault weapons ban while a senator, to lead a task force to come up with recommendations on how to reduce gun violence. The White House is expected to issue its plan on Jan. 15.