Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that pro-gun-control advocates need to do a better job affirming the right to bear arms.
He slammed the "radicalization" of both sides of the gun debate, which has regained the attention of Congress in the wake of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last Friday.
In an op-ed published Wednesday, Schumer urged gun-control advocates to "move on" from the idea of banning all handguns.
Schumer's argument builds on the 2008 Supreme Court case D.C. v. Heller, which ruled Washington's handgun ban unconstitutional based on the Second Amendment.
"The truth is, it was bad strategy to ever deny an individual right to bear arms and, similarly, the special place guns hold in our culture," Schumer wrote in The Washington Post. "Heller removes that possibility for good. Progressives should move on and work within the ruling."
On MSNBC, he pointed out that the struggle to find middle ground on the gun-control debate is partially a "geographic issue."
"I went hunting with [Sen.] Ben Nelson [D-Neb.] and I actually saw that it was sort of like playing basketball on my Brooklyn street corner," he said.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation's largest gun-rights advocacy group, has been a strong opponent of measures to restrict gun ownership. Many have suggested that the group's influence on policy might be lessened in the wake of last week's shooting, with New York City Michael Bloomberg (I) calling its hold on lawmakers "vastly overrated."
"I think they still are very powerful," Schumer said of the NRA. "But now with all these shootings you may have the broad middle come up again, and that's what the NRA fears."
The pro-gun organization has stayed silent this week out of respect for the victims killed by a shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but announced it will hold a "major" press conference on Friday.
"The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again," the organization said in a statement.