U.S. Representative Tim Bishop is one of a chorus of national leaders calling for stricter gun control laws following a devastating massacre at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 people, mostly children, dead last week.
Mr. Bishop, a Democrat who represents the 1st Congressional District in Suffolk County, said on Monday that he’s in favor of enacting “reasonable gun control laws” that would be aimed at quelling a spate of mass shootings in recent years. Those massacres include the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last week, a movie theater that was shot up in Aurora, Colorado earlier this year, a gunman striking at a supermarket in Arizona at U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others last year and the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.
“A, I very much hope that this is something that Congress takes seriously,” Mr. Bishop said. “And B, we cannot allow it to fade.”
There are three things Mr. Bishop said he’d like to see in a gun control bill. One component should speak to restricting access to “high capacity magazines” that allow individuals to fire multiple rounds at once without reloading. A New York State law limiting that number to 10 rounds already exists, and it’s one Mr. Bishop said he’d like to see implemented on a national level. He said it’s a “common sense” step.
“There is no sportsmen, there is no hunting argument that could be made to justify the availability of such high capacity magazines,” he said. “…This is not about deer hunting. This is not about denying sportsmen the right to pursue their hobby.”
Also, the congressman said he wants to close a loophole that allows people to avoid background checks by buying guns at gun shows. Also, Mr. Bishop wants to see an expired federal ban on assault weapons reinstated.
Asked if he feels attitudes on gun control are shifting in any meaningful way in Washington, Mr. Bishop said, “It’s a little early to know the answer to that question.”
“I think the public comment thus far is as you would expect, those who have long favored gun control such as myself are basically saying what the president has said, which is enough is enough,” said Mr. Bishop. “And that it is time to take serious steps to see to it that guns are not readily available to those who cannot be entrusted with using them properly as they currently are.”
The National Rifle Association of America, which has been silent on the issue since last Friday’s shooting, on Tuesday issued a press release stating that the organization was “prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again” and that it would hold a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Friday, December 21.
“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of 4 million moms and dads, sons and daughters—and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown,” the release states. “Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.”
East Hampton Town Police Chief Eddie Ecker Jr., who has hunted since he was a boy growing up in East Hampton Town, weighed in on the issue this week. He also said there’s got to be a “commonsense” approach in dealing with gun control.
He said he’d support a ban on assault weapons. He pointed out that shooting rifles on Long Island is prohibited, except at shooting ranges.
He said reforms like stricter background checks and limiting access to high capacity magazines aren’t a bad idea, but questioned whether they would actually prevent a weapon from getting in the wrong hands.
“Does that stop the carnage?” he said. “I don’t know. When you peel it all away, really with these mass killings like this, it’s crazy people getting a hold of guns. That’s what it is. It’s not the avid hunter or the altar boy that’s doing it. It’s people that are crazy. Now how do those weapons get in their hands? That’s the thing, I don’t know what the answer is to that.”