A popular GOP congressman announced today that he will soon introduce gun control legislation that will make it illegal to carry a gun within 1,000 feet of a federal official.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who has generally been supportive of gun control measures, announced the new legislation alongside strong anti-gun New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Not surprisingly, the legislation, which will be introduced in the upcoming weeks, got Bloomberg's stamp of approval.
King's office issued a statement about the bill, which reads in part:
Congressman Peter King today also announced that he will introduce legislation that will make it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within 1,000 feet of the President, Vice President, Members of Congress or judges of the Federal Judiciary. In the United States, it is illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a school. Passing a similar law for government officials would give federal, state, and local law enforcement a better chance to intercept would-be shooters before they pull the trigger.
Bloomberg, the head of the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, applauded the measure, saying at a joint news conference the "system that's supposed to protect us from dangerous and deranged people has failed."
At that same news conference, King defended the bill, saying "The fact is they do represent the people who elect them, and it's essential if we're going to continue to have contact that the public who is at these meetings are ensured of their own safety."
According to him, the measure does not conflict with conservative views on gun laws.
"From a conservative perspective, we have to have a stable society, we have to keep crime down," King said. "You cannot do that if the police cannot be assured that illegal guns are not on the street."
"To have a stable society and a safe society, we have to remove illegal guns," he continued.
But the main issue might be, if a gun is already "illegal" why would we need more legislation to outlaw it? For example, in many states, laws already prevent people from carrying a concealed weapon. And the other question is how would this legislation prevent a crazed gunman -- who already has no respect for laws against murder -- from doing exactly what Loughner did?
Despite the rhetoric of the news conference, all indications are that King's legislation is not just aimed at illegal guns (that would be redundant). It seems to apply more to "legal" gun owners -- those who have permits to carry a concealed weapon, or those who are more inclined to abide by the law.
Reports indicate that at least one such person was at the Tucson Safeway the day Rep. Gabriell Giffords was shot. Joe Zamudio is one of the men who helped subdue Tucson gunman Jared Loughner. Zamudio admitted he was carrying a concealed weapon at the time, and said he was seconds away from using it. Under King's legislation, however, Zamudio's gun would have been illegal.
Still, Bloomberg thinks the legislation does not infringe one's right to keep and bear arms.
"That does not take away the First amendment, it protects it," he said. "That does not take away the Second amendment, I think it protects it"
King is the same congressman who vowed to hold hearings on radical Islam, and currently chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. He said he expects the president's support on the bill, which would specifically make it illegal to carry a gun within 1,000 feet of the president, vice president, members of Congress, or judges of the Federal Judiciary.
King isn't the first legislator to vow more gun legislation. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) said they will soon introduce a measure to ban high-capacity gun clips (defined as more than 10 rounds).
Initial attempts to contact King's office for comment and clarification were unsuccessful.