Silent for the most part on gun control during his first two years in Congress, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said he can see no reason for civilians to have high-capacity gun magazines like the one that was used in this month's shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., that left six people dead and wounded 14 others, including his House colleague Gabrielle Giffords.
Himes is an original co-sponsor of a bill introduced this week by U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., seeking to ban the production and transfer of gun magazines holding more than 10 bullets.
McCarthy's husband was murdered and her son severely wounded by gunman Colin Ferguson during a 1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting rampage.
"I've never heard a good argument why hunters, target shooters or people interested in self-defense need to fire more than 10 rounds," Himes said.
All 57 sponsors of McCarthy's bill, which endeavors to restore a restriction that was part of the federal assault weapons ban from 1994 to 2004, are Democrats.
"In the wake of the attack on Gabby on others, I just realized the debate shouldn't be pro-gun and anti-gun," Himes said. "It should be how do we keep guns out of the hands of madmen and how do we restrict technology that produces massacres."
Bob Montlick, 74, who said he voted for Himes in 2008 and owns Bob's Gun Exchange in Darien, called the legislation misguided.
"The magazine ban is totally useless," Montlick said. "What they're doing, of course, is a knee-jerk-type response."
Montlick recommended that politicians focus on the types of individuals who can obtain a gun, which he said is a lethal weapon irrespective of the number of bullets fired from it. Tucson gunman Jared Loughner, 22, has an apparent history of mental illness.
Among the gun-control groups supporting the ban is the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center, which noted that high-capacity ammunition magazines have been used in 10 of the nation's deadliest shootings.
"The Arizona attack joins a long list of mass shootings made possible by the easy availability of ammunition magazines that can hold up to 100 rounds: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Luby's, Wedgewood Baptist Church, Stockton, and all too many others," Kristen Rand, the group's legislative director, said in a statement posted on the organization's website. "High-capacity ammunition magazines facilitate mass shootings by giving attackers the ability to fire numerous rounds without reloading," Rand said. "An effective ban on high-capacity magazines will help prevent tragedies like the one that claimed six lives and wounded numerous others (Jan. 8). We can save lives in the future with this simple, effective proposal."
Himes said that the only reason that Loughner was subdued was because he stopped to reload.
"They hit him with a chair when he stopped to reload," Himes said.
Himes insisted that he is not trying to encroach on the Second Amendment rights of citizens.
"I like shooting. I really enjoy shooting," Himes said. "I have no interest in taking away guns from people who are going to use them responsibly."
Messages seeking comment from the National Rifle Association were left with the group's media affairs office on Friday.
Himes also pointed out that existing high-capacity clips would be grandfathered under the bill.
"If you own a high-capacity clip, it's not going to get taken away from you," Himes said. "Possession is not a crime. You just can't transfer it."
Montlick said that it's unfair to blame gun manufacturers for incidents such as the one in Tucson, however.
Monltick disputed whether a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips would even be effective.
"You shove the next one in and you keep shooting," Montlick said of reloading. "It's a matter of one or two seconds. If (Himes) wants to come in the store, I'll be glad to show him."