WASHINGTON -- A leading congressional opponent of assault-gun restrictions predicted yesterday that the mass killing Texas would not affect the impending House vote on whether to outlaw pistol clips containing more than seven rounds.
The Austrian-made pistol used in the massacre usually carries a 17-round magazine.
"I don't think it will change anyone's mind," Representative Steven H. Schiff, R-N.M., said in an interview. "Generally, I think those who believe criminals will always get weapons will believe that criminals will always get weapons. And what you make illegal will not affect that."
By coincidence, the Texas killer struck on the eve of a House debate on a long-pending crime bill that would, among other things, ban future sales of 20 brands of assault guns. The bill would also ban possession of clips for weapons larger than .22 caliber that contain more than seven rounds.
The House bill contains a "grandfather clause" that would allow existing assault guns and large-capacity ammunition clips to remain in circulation.
The weapon used in the Texas killings, an Austrian-made Glock 17 service pistol, could still be sold legally if the House bill were enacted because the Glock was not among the brands that a House crime subcommittee determined were the most frequently used in crime.
If the bill was enacted, however, distributors would have to stop selling Glocks and many other varieties of pistols, rifles and shotguns with clips holding more than seven rounds.
Under House parliamentary ground rules for the crime bill, it is too late for the sponsors to add the Glock 17 to the list of banned weapons.
The National Rifle Association is lobbying to block curbs on large-capacity clips as well as on assault weapons. One NRA fact sheet contends that "there is no proof that the number of rounds fired in an armed criminal encounter is increasing."
The Senate has already passed a version of the crime bill that would ban a shorter list of assault gun brands. The Senate bill would not restrict the size of gun clips.
Jane's Infantry Weapons says the Glock 17 is an Austrian-made service pistol.