Political gun debate starts anew after Navy Yard rampage
September 16th, 2013
08:25 PM ET
9 years 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?"

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"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.

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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.

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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. A Kickin' Donkey

    I encourage the next idiot to say something about " GUN FREE ZONES" as the root of the problem as if a Wild West culture where everyone was packing a gun would solve the gun violence problem. It wouldn't. It would only make gun manufacturers and their shareholders filthy stinking rich paying next to ZERO taxes in the process.

    Anyone who knows ANYTHING about the Naval Systems Command knows it holds highly classified information and high ranking navy officers are in and out of that building. It is the FURTHEST THING from a "GUN FREE ZONE". They have guards, guns & gates and this still happened. If Alexis couldn't have had a shotgun, this would have never happened.

    The way to prevent him from having one would be to prevent them from being available to him, or to be carried in public by him, or to buy the ammo for it. I was disturbed by TV commentators calling for more " LONG GUNS" [the new euphemism
    for assault rifles, I guess] in the hands of police, guards etc. This was not the source of the problem yesterday and is the wrong approach for tomorrow.

    Some called this the "NEW NORMAL". I call for a different NEW NORMAL . . . . no guns in civilian hands . . . achieve it by any means necessary.

    September 17, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Eli Cabelly

    Don't you know, all it takes to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Hey wait, do they have guns in the Navy? Have I missed something here?

    September 17, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  3. craigorie

    Something ought to be passed...gun dealers will still sell guns but we need some controls which won't upset normal gun owners. It's going to be tough to get something through but the NRA ought to use their clout to work with others on this issue...something which won't make them feel that they're "losing" out as they have a pretty big ego.

    September 17, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  4. The REAL Truth...

    @Data Driven- How about banning hammers? More people are killed each year with hammers than rifles.
    Same lame analogies every time the debate comes up. Comparing one specific weapon, rifles, and dishonestly comparing it to dozens of weapons; the FBI stats for blunt objects do not differentiate between hammers, clubs, tire irons, nunchuks, bricks, crowbars, baseball bats, beer bottles, billy clubs, poles, cinderblocks, irons, and dozens of other weapons that are used to bludgeon people or bash their brains out. It also conveniently leaves out every other type of gun murder.
    Let's look at all gun deaths in the US and compare to hammer deaths. In 2011, there were 12,664 murders in the US. Of those, 8,583 were caused by firearms. 68% of ALL murders. That's a mere 6% caused by blunt instrument. IOW – a FAILED comparison.
    We'll ignore that an additional 18,000 + committed suicide with firearms.

    Nah, ease of gun availability, incomplete background checks, private sales loopholes have nothing to do with the gun death rate.

    September 17, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  5. Fire

    All the criminals agree that gun control is necessary and the 2nd amendment is out dated and should be overturned. Why should law abiding citizens allowed to own firearms when all they want to do is stop criminals from persuading there agenda. Criminals want control to take what they want when they want without interference. Now is the time to stop criminals in there tracks and for the police to clean our streets of crime and gang banger gangstas. Drop then in the middle of the ocean for shark bait. Every day we see in our local news criminals and we the people want this to end now. When found guilty, the boat leaves the dock at 5 a.m., everyday.

    September 17, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  6. Doug

    I am sick and tired of the NRA having such strong control over our elected officials. The NRA is a selfish, greedy PAC that has ruined our country. We need to focus on ways to neutralize their influence.........and don't talk to me about second amendment rights – those 12 people that died yesterday had a right to expect to be safe in their workplace.

    September 17, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. Carlos

    The Aurora Colorada shooting was in a gun free zone. The Newtown school shooting was in a gun free zone. And now this shooting at the DC Navy yard was also in gun free zone. It should be plainly obvious to EVERYONE that GUN FREE ZONES DO NOT WORK!! Gun free zones only restrict the rights of law abiding citizens to protect themselves. Politicians, the media and the liberal minded in our society need to realize this: Criminals do not obey any laws. Stop restricting the rights of law abiding citizens to protect themselves.

    September 17, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Chicago has had 15 homicides so far this month. Why isn't the left talking about that?

    September 17, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  9. Phillip

    Shooter at Naval shipping yard used a shotgun he purchased and 2 pistols which were possibly taken from security guards or officers according to today's news.

    September 17, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. klow

    The Navy Yard killings show the futility of the gun control measures being advocated. The shooter passed 2 security checks within the last year to receive a Secret level clearance. This was in addition to any checks that were made when he purchased his guns. He entered a secured military facility that was an obvious terrorist target and had more security than any civilian place including schools. The problem were not his guns but a systematic failure of the US government to properly check his background and enforce the security measures at the Navy Yard. Who needs guns when he or a terrorists could have brought in a WMD such as sarin gas into the Navy Yard?

    September 17, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. Phillip

    By the way, this does not restart the gun debate, if these incidents were to occur every day, it would only prioritize the importance of protecting your life and your loved ones by any means available from the never ending flow of persons with psychological issues. Ultimately it will only polarize both camps to a greater degree and that's ok..we are not Borg (shameless Star Trek insert).

    September 17, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. DRM

    Per the latest, verified facts from the scene, the shooter (who should have not been walking the streets freely, based on his past history of mental health issues & violent behavior) DID NOT HAVE, NOR USE AN "AR15" OR ANY OTHER SORT OF SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE!!! He came with a PUMP-ACTION SHOTGUN, then took several handguns from ambushed first responders. But why let facts get in the way of your agenda, right Feinstein & CNN?
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Law enforcement officials say the Navy contractor identified as the gunman in the deadly shootings at the Washington Navy Yard used a shotgun and two handguns, but not an AR-15 assault rifle, as officials previously said.

    Two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that an AR-15 was found at the scene. One of them said Tuesday that Alexis did not use that weapon in the shootings. It was not immediately clear whether the rifle belonged to a law enforcement or security officer responding to the gun battle. The official said Tuesday the guns that Alexis used included a shotgun he had purchased and two handguns that he took away from law enforcement officer at the scene.

    September 17, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. Larry L

    Ancient Texan you have a credibility problem. When you purposefully distort data to make a political point it's not a clever trick – it's just a lie. If you want radical laws to control the distribution of firearms you should simply keep telling lies so people who already distrust gun owners can be convinced of your lack of honesty and credibility. I'm also an old Texan (Soldier, hunter and gun owner) but I'm trying to prevent becoming a dishonest old Texan. Age will take our brains but we should try to keep our character.

    September 17, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. Data Driven

    @Ancient Texan,

    But can a maniac kill dozens of people in a matter of seconds with a hammer? He can with a WMD like an AR-15.

    By the way, since people keep asking: I don't believe law enforcement should wield such weapons, nor should private citizens, nor should military personnel while on American soil.

    September 17, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. Hank

    The FBI says that an AR15 was not used in the shooting. The killer used a shotgun and stole handguns after he entered the base.

    September 17, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Man uses a shotgun and they want to ban AR-15s.CNN does not do responsible journalism and ask Feinstein why she wants to ban AR-15s when shotgun was used. Man has mental issues and the ignore that.No real surpises here. Hang on tightly to your homeland defense rifles. You're going to need them because "home"land defense starts at "home".

    September 17, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  17. Randy

    The weapon he brought was a shotgun, not a semi-automatic rifle! This is not a gun control issue but a national security issue. How did this guy, who so clearly was not fit before yesterday, every get a job on the base?

    September 17, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Veteran of war

    Man has mental health issues, they are ignored. Man uses shotgun, Sen Feinstein calls for AR-15 ban (again). CNN does not do repsonislbe journalism and ask her why. Hang on tightly to your "home"land defense rifles. You're going to need them, because "home"land defense starts at "home".

    September 17, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. Kevin

    Gun free zones do nothing but prevent people from defending themselves. When was the last time you heard of some psycho killer being deterred because his target was a gun free zone?

    September 17, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. nc123

    Higher ranking enlisted and officers (E7and above, 04and above) should be permitted and encouraged to carry a sidearm in a military flap holster on a military pistol belt. Rarely are CONUS personnel other than MPs and gate guards allowed to carry sidearms. The military exists to protect us from all threats. They cannot do this if they are not allowed to defend themselves.

    September 17, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. billcinfla

    I am waiting for the debate on violent movies and games to get ignited in earnest. Our society has always had guns but something has gone very wrong in our lifetimes. Society is quite ill and guns are not the reason.

    September 17, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. The Real Tom Paine


    Man uses a shotgun and they want to ban AR-15s.CNN does not do responsible journalism and ask Feinstein why she wants to ban AR-15s when shotgun was used. Man has mental issues and the ignore that.No real surpises here. Hang on tightly to your homeland defense rifles. You're going to need them because "home"land defense starts at "home".
    Once again, the gun huggers start out by spreading false information. The shooter used an AR-15 which he purchased in Virginia, as well as the shotgun and a pistol. This is about workplace violance, not about the right to defend one's home. Every time we have a massacre like this, the NRA's minions go out and spread rumors, and keep them alive by flooding pages like this with cries of " they're coming for our guns!" 12 people were murdered, and all they can think about is their gun hoard. Selfish, greedy children.

    September 17, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. Data Driven

    @Veteran of war,

    So the media gets the story wrong; what else is new? But, yes, while we're on the subject, AR-15s should be prohibited to nonmilitary personnel.


    A place with armed guards is a "gun-free" zone? Interesting. But in any case, trained personnel can be taken by surprise, which unfortunately happened here. I don't see John Q. Public performing much better.

    September 17, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. Sad in Colorado

    Colorado and NRA are so very proud of killing our new gun control laws. Blood on their hands.

    September 17, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  25. ug

    Try and take my guns...you never will...

    September 17, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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