Democrats decide to take gun control slowly after Isla Vista shootings

Flowers, photos and a note adorn a sidewalk memorial for victims of a May 23, 2014 shooting rampage in Isla Vista.
Flowers, photos and a note adorn a sidewalk memorial for victims of a May 23, 2014 shooting rampage in Isla Vista.
Christopher Weber/AP

It’s been a month since Elliot Rodger killed three roommates and shot three others in Isla Vista, but gun control bills still face poor odds in Congress, according to House Democrats. Still, they insist small steps can reduce gun violence. Since Isla Vista, there have been three more high profile shootings in Seattle, Portland and Las Vegas.

Santa Barbara Congresswoman Lois Capps says she's attended vigils, had coffee with University of California students and attended community meetings. She says she heard two messages: frustration and a demand for action.

"People are sick and tired of nice sounding words of sadness after an event and they're asking us to do something," Capps said.

RELATED: Sen. Feinstein: California should pass more gun legislation; Congress can't

Minority House Democrats like Capps admit they’re fighting an uphill battle to pass any gun violence bill. They’ve sponsored nearly two dozen measures, including the latest from Capps, designed to close domestic violence protection loopholes.

It would prevent stalkers or dangerous boyfriends or girlfriends from purchasing a gun. Current law recognizes spouses, former spouses, parents and cohabitants.

"Our laws must recognize that an abusive dating partner with a gun is just as deadly as an abusive spouse with a gun," said Capps.

The measure would also prohibit gun purchases by an abuser with a temporary restraining order. Current law only restricts purchases when a permanent restraining order is in place. The bill is similar to one already introduced in the U.S. Senate.

But gun control measures have gone nowhere in Congress. Even the Democratically-led Senate failed to pass a background check measure after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Democrats like Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer admit Capps' bill is a "small slice" of a larger problem, but says tiny steps are the key to regulating gun violence — in the same way seatbelts and design improvements led to a decrease in automobile deaths.

A number of House Democrats, including Lois Capps, say one measure has the best chance of passing this term: Pennsylvania Republican Tim Murphy’s bill that would give families more power in handling a mentally ill loved one.