Political gun debate starts anew after Navy Yard rampage
September 16th, 2013
08:25 PM ET
10 months ago

Political gun debate starts anew after Navy Yard rampage

Washington (CNN) - Hours after the Washington Navy Yard shooting, some of Washington's most vocal advocates for gun control started to renew their calls for further restrictions on firearms.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, one of the strongest proponents of a ban on assault weapons like the AR-15 that suspected shooter and military contractor Aaron Alexis is believed to have used, issued a statement Monday asking "When will enough be enough?"

"Congress must stop shirking its responsibility and resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence in this country. We must do more to stop this endless loss of life," the California Democrat said in the statement. (Read Feinstein's statement below.)

It remains unclear exactly what happened at the Navy Yard Monday, with no indication of where the weapons used came from.

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Fellow Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia did not go quite as far as Feinstein in his calls Monday for gun control. But the sentiment was there in the statement Rockefeller put out that also expressed his sorrow at the tragedy. (Read Rockefeller's statement below.)

"We are becoming far too familiar with senseless, tragic violence. This is the seventh shooting since 2009, and these repeated incidents demand our attention," Rockefeller said.

Efforts to push gun control legislation through Congress led by Vice President Joe Biden have stalled since the Sandy Hook tragedy that saw 20 school children and six adults murdered in Newtown, Connecticut last December.

VP Biden announces new actions to curb gun violence

CNN's Dana Bash reports that the Navy Yard shootings and several other mass shootings in the last 10 months are unlikely to undo the stall. Bash spoke to Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who told her he simply doesn't think the latest incident will be enough to garner the 60 votes a gun control measure would need to break a Republican filibuster.

Universal background checks have already proven political dead weight for Democrats at the state level, with the successful recall elections of two Colorado state legislators in Democratic-leaning districts last week.

Colorado recall election prompts gun debate

The National Rifle Association did not respond to a request for comment Monday. The gun rights organization has typically not responded to similar shootings immediately.

– CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report.

Statement from Feinstein:

"I mourn those killed today at the Navy Yard in Washington and send my thoughts and prayers to those families grieving the loss of loved ones.

"There are reports the killer was armed with an AR-15, a shotgun and a semiautomatic pistol when he stormed an American military installation in the nation's capital and took at least 12 innocent lives.

"This is one more event to add to the litany of massacres that occur when a deranged person or grievance killer is able to obtain multiple weapons-including a military-style assault rifle-and kill many people in a short amount of time.

"When will enough be enough?

"Congress must stop shirking its responsibility and resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence in this country. We must do more to stop this endless loss of life."

Statement from Rockefeller:

“West Virginians everywhere today are grieving for those killed-and the families they left behind-after today’s horrendous act, made all the more terrible because it happened in a place and to people who serve our nation and work to protect us.

“We are becoming far too familiar with senseless, tragic violence. This is the seventh shooting since 2009, and these repeated incidents demand our attention. While the details are being sorted out, I hope you’ll join with Sharon and me in offering our deepest sympathies and heartfelt prayers to those affected by today’s horrific act of violence.”


Filed under: Dianne Feinstein • Gun control • Jay Rockefeller • Joe Manchin
soundoff (358 Responses)
  1. Nino

    The United States of NRA........that's what we are!

    September 17, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. midwest2

    Why will this debate be any different than the previous one?Same old grandstanding and nothing will change.

    September 17, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  3. Ronald

    Everybody talks about the sale of guns but nobody really discusses the easy flow of guns across the border. It is fairly easy to buy a gun legally but it is way easier to get a gun off the grid. And these are guns that are heavily regulated, like fully automatic and military grade. They can't be bought anywhere by regular civilians. How do we prevent gangs and criminals from acquiring them? But pass the laws that you must. The laws in the books aren't even being regulated and followed. But go ahead pass new laws because it won't prevent events like this from happening. Get your warm fuzzies. I will still have my way to defend my family if something happens. I will keep my emergency life saving devices. Nothing will change.

    September 17, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    The right wing would much rather argue about gun control than the sequestered budget cuts that lead to cuts in security.

    September 17, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. jakeefer

    Why are we reading about Feinstein's mention of the shooter having an AR... WHEN HE IN FACT DID NOT..... he had a shot gun. The same weapon Joe Biden thinks we should all own for personal defense.

    September 17, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  6. Doug

    Interesting comments about this situation. Lives were unfortunately lost. People will point fingers at what the root cause of the issue is. There is not way of knowing. People need to take a broad look at the contributing factors such as first person video games, violent movies that dramatize killing, mental health issues, and of course the ever so popular gun control. We need to take a look at society as a whole and understand what influences an individual to want to kill multiple people. People need help. We need to provide that help from all angles. Not one of the above will stop these killings.

    September 17, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. trespassinthru

    The #1 GUN FREE ZONE? Gun shows. That's right folks, you CANNOT ENTER if carrying.

    September 17, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. Dave

    Naturally there is a lot of incorrect info in this story. He only had a shotgun when he entered the facility. Had a proper BG check been performed, he couldn't have purchased the shotgun he did so legally. The government is at fault here but naturally, the gun control nuts are trying to sue misinformation and diversion to wage their battle on the yet to be dug graves of the dead.

    September 17, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  9. rell87

    Does it bother any of you that the laws proposed by Obama and the left would not have prevented any of the mass shootings in the US over the last several years? Does that simple fact enter into your thinking at all?

    September 17, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  10. DAT

    Sorry to burst your bubble (Kickin' Donkey), but Navy bases and similar facilities ARE (basically) gun free zones! Only select individuals therein can have guns. Kinda like the streets of DC, where only the cops are legally allowed to have guns. Trust me, I know military people and that's what they tell me. I'd be willing to bet that most (perhaps not all) of the victims in this case were unarmed.

    September 17, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. trespassinthru

    The #1 GUN FREE ZONE? Gun shows. That's right folks, you CANNOT ENTER if carrying. Makes sense, right gun owners? I say let's adopt that sensible gun owners' rule all over the place, to protect ourselves, just like gun owners do at THEIR OWN EVENT. OK gun owners?

    September 17, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. Dean

    A secret security clearance from the government for the shooter. Guess that kinda lets us forget about the government doing background checks for gun purchases.

    September 17, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. Teapubliturd Hater

    The NRA is celebrating this massacre. They will use this as a "see what I mean about Blacks and guns?" narrative.

    September 17, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. Malory Archer

    Dean

    A secret security clearance from the government for the shooter. Guess that kinda lets us forget about the government doing background checks for gun purchases.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except he was a government contractor, so the corporation he represented while doing his job at the navy base was responsible for conducting his background check.

    September 17, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Looking for fault in the all the wrong place....

    As much as Liberals do not want to acknowledge it, they are repsonsible for dispensing the economic pain and suffering that has come to pass in the past 5 years in America. Once this Administration is ousted, things will start to get better.

    September 17, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. Reality122

    I've never attended a gun show or gun shop where I was not allowed to carry.

    September 17, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Larry L

    The reason people like Senator Feinstein wants to ban AR 15s is because similar weapons are seen in war, on SWAT teams, photos of terror groups, and other violent scenarios. Why would she know the difference between an AR 15 and an A4? For that matter, why should non-gun enthusists really care if a tactical-type weapon is an AK or an AR 15? Aren't gun enthusiasts really avoiding the real questions about rates of sustained fire, reloading requirements, and ways to get-around existing laws – like ratcheted triggers, recoil-operated devices to simulate fully-automatic fire, and other "tactical" toys? Maybe Senator Feinstein should be looking at all sporting weapons with the capability to fire more than a few rounds (lever, pump, or semi-auto rifles or shotguns) or reload with magazines, clips, rotary drums, tubes, or other pre-loaded devices? Do gun enthusists want those who fear guns to craft all of the futire laws?

    Since the beginning of this long debate the gun lobby never intended to present honest answers to sincere questions about gun capability and availability. For example: Does the 2nd Amendment really imply citizens have the "right" to maintain aresnals for the purpose of over-throwing the American government – should those individuals decide the government has become "too oppressive"? If so – why limit the options in any way? Didn't Nidal Hassan and Tim McVeigh lash out at a government they felt was "oppressive"? The 2nd is so poorly written anybody who can read can see the flaws in the language. To anybody who isn't trying to legalize the wide-spread distribution of firearms the term "well-regulated militia" means the National Guard. What about the term "arms"? Do we assume our founders could visualize modern weapons? The 2nd needs an update.

    Is a 50 BMG round really appropriate for any non-military purpose? It can be found in a semi-auto weapon. Wouldn't that be good for taking down an aircraft? How about magazines larger than 15 rounds – like a 30-round magazine for a Glock? How often in a self-defense scenario would a person actually get the opportunity to fire 15 rounds? Why is limiting magazines to that capacity such an unreasonable compromise? To the non-gun-owner these questions seem logical. Actual honest dialogue may wash away some of the irrational fears while giving gun enthusists a chance to guide America to a meaningful effort to control gun violence. The dishonest and distorted N.R.A. position will eventually cause Americans to vote for gun controls without the mentorship of mature hunters, collectors, shooting sports enthusists, and those simply looking for reasonable ways to protect themselves. That's as bad idea.

    September 17, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. Contractor 997

    Yeah, except he was a government contractor, so the corporation he represented while doing his job at the navy base was responsible for conducting his background check.

    *************************************************************************************************************************************************

    True but most contractors are still carrying the clearance given while on active duty or in the reserves when hired. A new background check is not performed until the security clearance expires. The possession of a security clearance is what gets many people the contracting job in the first place.

    September 17, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. bigdoglv

    You fools blame the NRA when this problem is much deeper. Your political rant only makes you look like the political hacks that you are. The more info from this horrible tragedy we get, the more we find out that the problem is being overlooked for a political agenda. Fools.

    September 17, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. Cigar Smoker

    It would be nice if guns could be treated like automobiles. Registered, licensed, and insured.

    September 17, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  21. Had Enough

    A full and complete retraction and apology is in order from every journalist, commentator, editor, anchor, etc. at CNN who has incorrectly reported that Aaron Alexis brought an AR-15 rifle to use in his killing spree at the D.C. Naval Shipyard. This incorrect statement is cheap, low effort reporting at best and politically motivated misinformation at worst. Given the FBI's recent statement attesting to Alexis' bringing a shotgun (Joe Biden's favorite defense weapon) and NOT an AR-15 to the shipyard, continued use of this misinformation and/or a lack of public correction of the previous mistakes demonstrates intent to purposely mislead the public in support of an anti-gun agenda. Individuals and organizations hiding behind "freedom of the press" to propagate such an agenda deserve to lose this freedom along with their individual freedom of speech. Fix it and apologize or close your mouths.

    September 17, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  22. Missed Their Target

    Shooter ONLY brought a shotgun. MISS!!!!

    September 17, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  23. Malory Archer

    Looking for fault in the all the wrong place....
    As much as Liberals do not want to acknowledge it, they are repsonsible for dispensing the economic pain and suffering that has come to pass in the past 5 years in America. Once this Administration is ousted, things will start to get better.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except President Obama hasn't been in office for five years, and the country was falling off a cliff in the waning days of the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's reign of error. Things would be a lot better if your ilk hadn't made a promise to their deep pocketed handlers on Innaguration Day 2009 to obstruct everything and anything President Obama supports – including legislation written by them, no matter how much it hurt working Americans. Considering the congress is responsible for spending, it's you who fails to acknowledge facts.

    September 17, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  24. Malory Archer

    Contractor 997

    True but most contractors are still carrying the clearance given while on active duty or in the reserves when hired. A new background check is not performed until the security clearance expires. The possession of a security clearance is what gets many people the contracting job in the first place.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The corporation was negligent in not doing a background check before hiring him to work at a government facility, military clearance or not. They are responsible when their employees go on a shooting rampage or sell government secrets to foreign entities. I had two separate clearances when I worked for the DoD, and both were valid when I left. That didn't stop my current employer from running a complete background check on me prior to my being hired, because in his words "we do business with the government." My only run-in with the law was a speeding ticket in 1987, but it still showed up on my background check 17 years later.

    My husband was active duty for 24 years. Both civilian employers he has worked for since retiring ran backgrounds on him prior to hiring him – and he has absolutely no dealings with the government.

    September 17, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  25. 52pan

    Now he had a shotgun and not an AR-15. Oh my what is this world coming to?

    September 17, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
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