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Gun Control Measure Faces Uphill Battle

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday formally unveiled a bill to ban the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used by alleged Tucson shooter Jared Loughner.

The bill would mandate that clips sold in the United States allow for at most ten rounds. The clip allegedly used by Loughner, which became legal when Congress allowed the assault weapons ban to expire in 2004, could hold up to 33 rounds.

Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey plans to introduce the bill, which would not ban the possession of high-capacity clips purchased before passage of a ban, in the Senate.

(At left: A YouTube video of a man shooting a Glock 19 with a 33-round high-capacity clip.)

"How many people have to die because of these clips?" McCarthy asked in introducing the bill Tuesday. A longtime advocate of stronger gun control laws, McCarthy ran for Congress following the 1993 shooting of her husband and son on the Long Island Railroad. Her husband was killed in the attack.

McCarthy said at the unveiling that such clips are "not needed in our society," while Rep. Jim Moran, a Virginia Democrat, deemed the proposal "extremely moderate." Yet as Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, noted at the hearing, no Republicans have come out in favor of the bill. And it cannot get through the GOP-led House without at least some Republican support.

glock, gun, Giffords
The alleged gunman who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 other people, killing six, used a Glock 19 9mm semi-automatic pistol. AP

A CBS News polllast week found that Americans are split on whether to strengthen gun control laws in general. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found, however, that 57 percent support a nationwide ban on high-capacity clips.

Yet that support may well not translate into support on Capitol Hill, in large part because of the power of the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association, which has successfully pushed rollbacks on back many gun control measures in recent years.

The Center for Responsive Politics found that gun rights groups spent $3.9 million and employed 49 lobbyists during the first nine months of 2010. Gun control advocates, meanwhile, spent just $180,000 and employed nine lobbyists.

The Center for Public Integrity, meanwhile, found that MidwayUSA, which sells the high capacity clips, has raised more than $5 million for the NRA's lobbying efforts.

In a statement last week, the NRA's lobbying arm opposed a ban on high-capacity clips, as well as other new gun control measures.

"These magazines are standard equipment for self-defense handguns and other firearms owned by tens of millions of Americans," the group said. "Law-abiding private citizens choose them for many reasons, including the same reason police officers do: to improve their odds in defensive situations."