US Senator: Don’t expect new gun laws anytime soon

Written By: Jacqueline Policastro
WENY Washington Bureau: Gun Control Talks

WASHINGTON, D.C. - (09/17/2013) - Just one day after a dozen people were killed in the Washington Navy Yard shooting, some lawmakers are bringing gun legislation back into the conversation.

The last time lawmakers debated over gun control was in April, when the Senate failed to pass new background check legislation.

This morning, a moment of silence was held on the Senate floor to remember the twelve lives lost in yesterday’s mass shooting, which happened just blocks away from where the nation’s leaders work.

“It seems we can’t go through two or three months without a shooting that involves mass casualties,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

Casey was against new gun laws until after the Sandy Hook shootings last December in Newtown, Connecticut. Now, he says the nation needs new background check laws, a ban on military-style assault weapons, and a limit on high-capacity magazine clips.

In a candid interview with Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro, he said that he does not expect new legislation to pass anytime soon – not even within this year.

“It doesn’t mean the debate shouldn’t continue,” Casey said. “It doesn’t mean we can’t build up to the day when we can have an opportunity to legislate again.”

Casey says he thinks new gun control laws will finally pass through Congress after the 2014 and 2016 election cycles.

But Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, says the time for Congress to act is now.

“Let’s get this done, let’s get our background check system more functional,” Horwitz said. “This shooting is yet another wakeup call and it happened within a mile of Congress. Get the message, get something done.”

Horwitz points to the mounting public support for tougher gun laws, and he says lawmakers should take notice.

“Our movement is much more organized. We have the president, the vice president, mayors across the country. We have Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly. We’re making great progress,” he said.

However, gun control supporters still aren’t as loud as some gun rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association – who had a simple message on their homepage after yesterday’s shooting: “We grieve and pray for those who lost their lives and for those hurt at the Washington Navy Yard.”

“Banning guns and imposing background checks won’t stop these creeps, but armed good guys will,” said a spokesperson from Gun Owners of America, a gun rights organization.

But gun control advocates are not giving up their cause. They plan to rally and meet with lawmakers this Thursday.

Their goal: to put more pressure on members of Congress to support a second attempt at national background check legislation.