News / USA

After Navy Yard Shootings, Lawmakers Ponder Action

Emergency responders at scene of Navy Yard shooting, Washington, Sept. 16, 2013.
Emergency responders at scene of Navy Yard shooting, Washington, Sept. 16, 2013.
Michael Bowman
One day after deadly shootings at Washington’s Navy Yard, U.S. lawmakers are asking how a man reported to have mental health issues and a history of firearms misuse was able to secure federal employment and gain access to a secure military facility.
 
But the legislators disagree on whether Congress should revisit gun control legislation in response to the nation’s latest mass shooting incident.
 
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who represents Newtown, Conn., where 26 people, mostly children, were gunned down last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has been one of the Senate’s most vocal proponents of gun control legislation.
 
He said the Navy Yard shootings are a bitter reminder of why tougher laws are needed.
 
“People out there do not understand why Congress does nothing as these shootings continue to mount," he said. "I think people in Newtown shake their heads when they see another shooting and further potential indifference from Congress.”
 
Fellow Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois noted that, earlier this year, gun control legislation died in the Senate as a result of mostly Republican opposition to new restrictions and requirements for firearms purchases.
 
“We have to do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of those who would misuse them — felons who have a history of misusing firearms, the mentally unstable who cannot be trusted to have a firearm.”
 
Republican lawmakers show little interest in revisiting gun control, but several said the Navy Yard incident raises other important issues.
 
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said the shooter, Aaron Alexis, never should have been cleared for duty as a military contractor.
 
“To me, it is not about gun control," he said. "It is about what has happened with our contractor force. How could [Alexis] pass a background check to get a job with the federal government after he had misused a weapon twice? When you shoot a guy’s tires out because you are mad at him, you are a good candidate not to work for the federal government.”
 
Fellow Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona noted that, in addition to gun-related brushes with the law, Alexis had been receiving mental health treatment.
 
“We also should focus our attention on people who show mental instability and whether they should have access to weapons or not," he said. "I think all Americans are in agreement on that.”
 
But Senator Murphy of Connecticut said that addressing mental health issues, though long overdue, is not enough.
 
“I am ready to put more money into mental health any day that Republicans are willing to join me, but that is not a gun bill," he said.
 
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney accused gun control opponents of disregarding the will of the people in favor of the nation’s politically potent gun rights groups.
 
“When you vote against 80 or 90 percent of the American people, when you vote against a majority of your constituents, in answer to, or at the behest of, a special interest, you are serving that narrow special interest," he said. "You are not serving your constituents.”
 
At the Capitol, lawmakers are likely to take note of the fate of two state legislators in Colorado who recently were ousted in a recall vote after backing gun control legislation.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs