MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP)Long Island Rep. Carolyn McCarthy announced Wednesday she will not seek a 10th term in office when her current term expires later this year.

McCarthy, a lifelong resident of Mineola, was first elected to Congress in 1996. She has been a staunch gun control advocate since her husband was killed and her son was seriously wounded in the Dec. 7, 1993 Long Island Rail Road massacre.

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“I am forever grateful to my constituents for giving me the privilege of representing them in Congress for the past 18 years. As I plan for the next chapter of my life, I look forward to resuming my role as a citizen activist for the causes and principles that are so close to my heart,” Rep. McCarthy said in a statement. “As a nation, more needs to be done to keep our citizens safe, while simultaneously protecting our Constitutional rights. Incidents involving gun violence over the last two years serve as yet another reminder that although modest progress has been made over the years, there is much more work to do.”

McCarthy, 70, has introduced gun control legislation throughout her career, including in the aftermath of the Tucson, Ariz. shooting rampage that left fellow Rep. Gabrielle Giffords seriously injured. Wednesday marks the third anniversary of the Tucson mass shooting incident.

Rep. McCarthy has also worked on legislation dealing with education and financial reform in her tenure.

Rep. Steve Israel, a fellow Long Island congressman who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called McCarthy “a shining example of how one can translate tragedy into meaningful public service. Carolyn leaves a legacy of standing up for Long Island families, advocating for the safety of our children and fighting for critical gun safety legislation. She will be deeply missed.”

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McCarthy, a lifelong smoker, announced in June that she had lung cancer. She subsequently sued dozens of asbestos manufacturers, claiming she may have been exposed to the material as a young woman. That suit is pending.

She was elected to the House in 1996, a surprise victory that would inspire a Barbra Streisand-produced TV movie. Eventually she became known as the “gun lady” on Capitol Hill.

“I’ve come to peace with the fact that that will be in my obituary,” McCarthy once told an interviewer of her stance on gun control.

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