House Democrats on Wednesday pressured Republicans to hold a vote now on a bill that would ban high capacity gun clips like the one used in the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D- Calif., said the GOP leadership should put a bill on the floor by Friday that would limit the size of gun magazines to 10 rounds.
Republicans leaders have not publicly responded to Pelosi's demand.
Flanked by a crowd of Democratic lawmakers, Pelosi made the statement at a news conference announcing a special House Democratic task force aimed at examining gun violence. Pelosi said she has tapped Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., who is a gun owner and a hunter, to lead the panel.
Democrats are trying to seize momentum necessary to pass the most aggressive gun control measure since the 1994 legislation that banned a wide range of assault weapons.
Both Republicans and Democrats, "would risk our lives to take that magazine out of the hands of the shooter," Pelosi said, calling for what she described as "political courage" from lawmakers. "Let's take a political risk and take that magazine out of the hands of shooters."
Democrats in the past have been reluctant to take up gun control legislation. They resisted an opportunity to reinstate the expired 1994 ban on assault weapons even when the House, Senate and White House were under Democratic control. And the party did not make it an issue during the 2012 election cycle.
Pelosi said Wednesday that she did not take up any gun bills when she was House speaker because Republicans would have filibustered it in the Senate.
In the days since the shooting, no Republican lawmaker has stepped forward to announce support for a gun control measure, but several moderate Democrats who have resisted such measures in the past say they have had a change of heart, and are open to some changes in gun law. They include Sens. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Mark Warner, of Virginia. Manchin clarified his position Wednesday to a news organization from his home state, saying he does not support banning any type of gun.
But Democrats could, for the first time in decades, have near unity, which would allow them to pressure the GOP on an issue that has gained wide public support in the aftermath of the Connecticut killings.
"I understand guns, their purpose and how they are used," Thompson, of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, said. "Military-type assault weapons and assault magazines have no place on our streets or in our communities."
According to a CBS poll released on Tuesday, 54 percent of respondents said stricter gun control laws should be put in place, a number that represents a 10 year high. By comparison, a CBS poll taken in the immediate aftermath of the January, 2011 mass shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others at a shopping mall in Arizona found that only 47 percent of respondents supported stricter gun laws.
Democrats Wednesday acknowledged that the nation appears to have reached a tipping point on gun violence that makes new legislation seem viable.
"We can pass it," Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said Wednesday. "Our country is united and determined in a demand for change."