Talk Shifts to Gun Control After Navy Yard Shooting

BY Christina Bellantoni  September 17, 2013 at 8:32 AM EDT

Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama called it “yet another mass shooting.” The Morning Line

Any lawmakers in Washington Monday would have been kept inside the Capitol complex for a few hours amid a lockdown as authorities were on the lookout for a possible second gunman.

Washington was paralyzed in the aftermath of a mass shooting at the Navy Yard facility in Southeast D.C., with workers unable to use the Metro, cars stopped on the freeways for miles and baseball fans left with a canceled Washington Nationals game.

It put a personal marker on a tragedy that was still unfolding throughout the day.

The basic facts are still surfacing: 12 people were slain in the Monday morning attack, and police said Texas native Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old former military reservist believed to have been discharged, was the man responsible. He also was killed. As the investigation continues, we learn more about some of the victims, who ranged in age from 43 to 70, and the focus shifts to how the shootout could have been prevented.

In Washington, that means a turn to politics.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., an advocate for gun control since the assassinations of San Francisco’s mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978, went there.

“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,” she said Monday.

But CNN’s Dana Bash reported on Twitter that Sen. Joe Manchin didn’t believe this shooting would change minds in the Senate. The West Virginia Democrat had co-authored the bipartisan gun control amendment that failed in the Senate after the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting last year. Now, he still wouldn’t have the votes, Bash wrote.

White House press secretary Jay Carney was equally hesitant to resuscitate a political debate.

Mr. Obama “was very clear with his significant disappointment with the Senate in its failure to pass commonsense legislation that was supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people, by majorities in blue states, purple states and red states,” Carney said. “We will continue to work to take action to reduce gun violence in this country through executive action, and hopefully Congress will take action to reduce gun violence as well.”

Congressional action, at the moment, seems far from likely. The Senate Judiciary Committee canceled a hearing planned for Tuesday on Stand Your Ground laws that have expanded the ability to use deadly force in self-defense situations. Stand Your Ground had played a role in the Florida trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin this year. Martin’s mother was slated to testify.

Politico’s Josh Gerstein summed up the thinking:

But comparisons between the attack last December at Sandy Hook Elementary and Monday’s violence in Washington present the White House and gun control advocates with a stark question and a grim reality: If the murder of 20 first graders in their Connecticut grade school wasn’t enough to pass a bill, how likely will the deaths of 12 adults at a Navy base change the result?

And Mark Glaze of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns said Monday that the country and president “have reached the tipping point not because of one mass shooting but because of an aggregate drip, drip, drip of more and more mass shootings.”

“Every time this happens, it throws additional fuel on a fire already blazing pretty high,” Glaze said.

D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said when the House comes into session Tuesday she will lead a moment of silence for “yet another heartbreak.”

The investigation is also sure to highlight security at U.S. military installations. Judy Woodruff reported on the tragedy and interviewed Chris Strohm of Bloomberg Monday night about what eyewitnesses told him about how the shooter was able to freely move about the building.

Watch the segments here or below:


The NewsHour will continue to cover breaking developments throughout the day on the Rundown blog.


  • House Speaker John Boehner complained in a statement Monday that the president’s speech marking the financial crisis anniversary “could not manage to rise above partisanship.” The Ohio Republican said Mr. Obama “should work with us to delay his health care law for everyone – just as he’s done for big businesses – expand energy production, simplify our tax code, and more.” Congress has five working days to come up with a new continuing resolution to fund the government beyond Sept. 30. The New York Times has more here and Politico’s Ginger Gibson examines how Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats are crucial to Boehner in this latest fiscal fight.

  • Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley is dropping his bid to be Illinois governor, telling the Chicago Tribune he had been struggling with the decision and realized he didn’t want to spend the next five to nine years living life this way. The Post described the move to drop out of the Democratic primary against Gov. Pat Quinn as “unexpected and abrupt.”

  • Bill de Blasio is officially the Democratic nominee for New York City mayor. Primary rival William Thompson conceded Monday during a press conference designed to show unity within the Democratic Party, the New York Times writes.

  • The Associated Press details that the House this week will consider a bill “that would cut food stamps by an estimated $4 billion annually and allow states to put broad new work requirements in place for recipients.” The measure “would end government waivers that have allowed able-bodied adults who don’t have dependents to receive food stamps indefinitely.”

  • Just before Gray became part of a major national story Monday, the AP reported he is still deciding if he’ll seek re-election in 2014 amid an ethics investigation.

  • Lewis Krauskop writes for Reuters that the number of initial enrollers that investors expect in the new Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace may be less than what the government expected.

  • Massachusetts Attorney General and failed 2010 Senate candidate Martha Coakley announced her bid for the Democratic nomination for governor. Still shadowed by Republican Scott Brown’s upset in the special election, she spoke about learning from mistakes while greeting diners at a restaurant Monday. Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe shared a photo from the campaign trail.

  • Excerpts from Mr. Obama’s interview with Spanish-language network Telemundo will air Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The full interview is scheduled to air Sunday.

  • Christina Bellantoni’s fifth-grade self is doing the happy dance, because this is truly amazing.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow


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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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