The 112th Congress Addresses Gun Control

National Journal Staff

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report misstated the number of people killed and the condition of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after a shooting on Jan. 8, 2011. Giffords was wounded at a public meeting in Tucson, Ariz., where six others were killed.

Since the 112th Congress convened on Jan. 3, 2011, several high-profile mass shootings have occurred. On Jan. 8, 2011, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot and six others were killed when a gunman opened fire at Giffords's public meeting in Tucson, Ariz. On July 20, 2012, a gunman opened fire and killed 12 during a screening of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises.

After the Dark Knight Rises shootings in Aurora, Colo., Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called for a reauthorization of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which had expired in 2004, in an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"We must not allow another tragedy to occur before we get serious about fixing our nation's gun laws," she wrote. "The Assault Weapons Ban meant fewer Americans were killed. That's a result that Republicans and Democrats alike should embrace."

As of now, the ban has not been reintroduced in Congress. And no major gun-control legislation proposed during the 112th Congress has made it out of committee. Below are some notable gun-control bills introduced by the 112th Congress.

Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act: Jan. 18, 2011

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Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., introduced a bill to outlaw large-capacity ammunition magazines following the Tucson shooting that wounded Giffords. The magazines were previously outlawed under the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., whose husband was killed in a mass shooting in the early 1990s, introduced a companion bill in the House (see below), but neither came up for a vote.

After the Aurora, Colo., shootings in July, Lautenberg reiterated his call to pass the bill in a statement. "Far too many American families have felt the horror of gun violence," he said. "Our hearts are still heavy with sadness after the tragedy in Colorado, but we need to start today on efforts to prevent the next attack. We should begin by passing my legislation to ban the sale of high-capacity gun magazines."

Securing Citizens' Protection at Federal Events Act: Jan. 26, 2011

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Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., introduced a bill to prohibit people from carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of any senior federal official, following the shooting of Rep. Giffords.





Gun Show Loophole Closing Act: Feb. 9, 2011

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Proposed by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., the Gun Show Loophole Closing Act was intended to reduce the number of guns to be sold through impromptu or unregulated gun shows. The bill would have required individuals to register as a gun-show operator and notify the attorney general of any upcoming gun shows 30 days in advance. Additionally, criminal background checks would be required for all those all those wishing to purchase a gun at a gun show.

The bill was referred to committee on Feb. 28, 2011, but died there. The corresponding bill in the Senate introduced by Lautenberg never reached a vote.


Fix Gun Checks Act: March 2, 2011

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Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced a bill to increase federal authority over individual states’ background-check procedures and boost mental-health services at all publicly funded higher-education institutions. The bill authorized heightened penalties for states not complying with background-check procedures and introduced background checks for unlicensed transfers of firearms.

A companion bill was introduced by McCarthy in the House. In the Senate, the bill was read on the floor, but died eight months later in committee. The House bill was referred to committee within a month of its introduction on May 5, 2011, but never made it to a vote.