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Rep. McCarthy says colleagues lack spine to take on the NRA

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), one of Congress’s most outspoken advocates for gun control, criticized her colleagues Sunday for not standing up to the National Rifle Association to “save lives.”

“A lot of politicians know it’s the right thing to try to fight for something to save lives. They don’t have a spine anymore. They pander to who’s giving them money,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

McCarthy’s husband was killed and her son critically injured in the 1993 Long Island Railroad shooting.

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Political analysts do not expect gun control efforts to gain any traction in Congress in the wake of Friday’s mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

Democrats have come to see gun control as a radioactive political issue and some blame their 1994 loss of the House of Representatives on the issue.

McCarthy, however, disputed the conventional wisdom that gun control is a political loser and suggested the 1994 midterm election was driven more by taxes than guns.

“Everyone kind of forgets about that time in history. We also raised taxes so there was a lot of things going on. I personally don’t think that members that lost that following year actually lost because of the gun issue,” she said.

McCarthy noted that she ran on gun control and won election to the House in 1996.

McCarthy also rejected the claim by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) that fewer people in the Colorado movie theater would have been killed if members of the audience had been carrying concealed weapons.

“Can you imagine in that theater, smoke, it’s dark and everybody starts shooting, I think the massacre would have been a lot worse,” she said. 

On Friday, Gohmert said: “Well it does make me wonder, you know with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying that could’ve stopped this guy more quickly?”

Former Los Angeles chief of police and former New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton said armed citizens would not likely have stopped James Holmes, who killed 12 people.

“He was armed to the teeth with all types of bullet-protection materials. The ability of a citizen to try and take that individual down equipped the way he was would have been de minimis,” said Bratton. “Fortunately for the responding officers it seemed that his automatic weapon, semi-automatic rifle, jammed. Otherwise they would have been outgunned.  

“This issue of ‘arm everybody’, I’m sorry, in this circumstance I don’t know that would have made a difference,” he added.