Sounds like Senator Dick Durbin (D. IL) is saying, "I hate to say I told you so but....":
Durbin is also calling on his colleagues to revisit the gun control debate after Monday's tragedy:Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) on Tuesday said gun control legislation defeated in the Senate earlier this year might have prevented Monday’s mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.
Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old gunman who killed 12 people at the Navy Yard, reportedly suffered from mental illness. Law enforcement officials say he suffered from paranoia and auditory hallucinations, according to The Associated Press.
“The Manchin-Toomey amendment said 'keep a gun like an AR-15 or any firearm out of the hands of people who are guilty of felonies or are mentally unstable,'” Durbin said after his floor speech. “This individual appeared to have some background issues — we know so little about him at this moment, but [from] what we’ve read — some background issues that should have raised some questions.”
Durbin cautioned, however, he did not know for sure whether background checks would have prevented Alexis from obtaining several firearms. Media outlets initially reported that Alexis used an AR-15, a version of the assault rifle made famous by the Vietnam War. CNN reported Tuesday that he might have used a shotgun and two handguns and not an AR-15. - The Hill, 9/17/13
While I agree with Senator Durbin that we have to revisit the gun control debate but I'm seeing mixed signs of any new life for that debate. First this happened:During a Senate floor speech, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said that Americans agree that some "common sense" changes are needed to prevent mentally ill people from obtaining firearms.
Durbin recounted news reports about the arrest records of Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis and how he sought mental health treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"Those sorts of things might have been warning signals," Durbin said. "Questions are raised: How can a man with that kind of a background end up getting the necessary security clearance for a military contractor to go into this Navy Yard, to be permitted to go into this Navy Yard? How did he get these weapons into the Navy Yard?"
"If we value our right for ourselves and our families and our children to be safe, if we value this Constitution, if we value the right of American to enjoy their liberties with reasonable limitations, then we need to return to issues that are of importance," Durbin added later. - Washington Post, 9/17/13
And I wouldn't put my money on one of the original co-authors of the Toomey-Manchin bill to try and revitalize the debate:A Senate hearing on so-called "stand your ground" laws set for Tuesday has been postponed in light of the shootings in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has announced.
The hearing was being held in response to concerns about "stand your ground" laws following the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, who killed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Such laws allow people who feel threatened to respond with deadly force.
"In light of today’s tragic shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., tomorrow’s hearing on stand your ground laws has been postponed to a later date," Durbin spokesman Max Gleischman said in a statement. - Washington Post, 9/16/13
Not to mention this happened:Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) does not intend to revisit the push for new laws to expand background checks on gun buyers in the wake of the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, an aide to the lawmaker told Politico on Tuesday.
Manchin's background checks amendment, which he co-authored with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), became the legislative focal point in the debate over gun control following last year's massacre in Newtown, Conn. The measure ultimately fell short in the Senate after drawing opposition from nearly every Republican and four red state Democrats. - TPM, 9/17/13
But there are some signs that the debate isn't dead. At least Senator Tom Carper (D. DE) has an idea:One week ago Tuesday, two Democratic legislators in the state faced — and lost — recall efforts stemming from their support of the new restrictions. The vote that ousted the two wasn't entirely about guns, of course; any vote against a legislator necessarily includes a wide array of longstanding complaints from the electorate. But the election itself was predicated on their support of gun control. Had they not cast votes for the issue, both would still be in the State Senate.
The timing is remarkable. If the NRA wants to put pressure on legislators, they need only pull out week-old newspapers, drop still-warm mail pieces on the desks of those thinking about new laws. Lay down the paper, point at the headline, shrug, and walk out.
By contrast, the president has only grown politically weaker in the months since Newtown. Last December, he'd just been reelected handily, had an obvious mandate to advocate what policies he desired. Starting in part with the failed Senate compromise vote in April, that advantage has eroded, and badly.
In the aftermath of his poorly-received push for action in Syria, the president's approval is the lowest it has been in a year, according to a new ABC News poll. He's doing worse on Capitol Hill, as we noted Monday morning. The staunch opposition of Senate and House conservatives has now been joined with broader skepticism from members of his own party, even as he hopes to corral them on critical economic measures. By this time next month, Congress will have had to resolve fraught discussions around renewing government funding and lifting the debt ceiling. It is very unlikely that the president will want to spend political capital he needs for those fights in an almost-certainly fruitless push for gun laws that were rejected only five months ago.
White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed discussion of gun control during his daily briefing on Monday — admittedly while the situation at the Navy Yard was still being resolved. The president, speaking several hours later, spoke only in vague terms. The government would be "investigating thoroughly what happened, as we do so many of these shootings, sadly, that have happened, and do everything that we can to try to prevent them." - The Atlantic Wire, 9/17/13
And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV) isn't ready to give up:Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, told reporters Tuesday that his committee could evaluate the background check procedures for military contractors in response to Monday's Washington, D.C., Navy Yard shootings.
The alleged shooter, Aaron Alexis, was a military contractor and former member of the Navy reserve. According to reports, his military contractor status gave him access to the building where the shooting occurred. Prior to Monday's shooting, Alexis had been arrested for multiple gun-related incidents and been treated for mental illness.
"I think there's a real interest in making sure we're focusing on background checks for contractors, those who are working for contractors," Carper told reporters. "To make sure they're being diligent, asking the right questions and getting the right answers." - TPM, 9/17/13
We'll see.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said he hoped to return at some point to a measure to expand background checks to more gun sales that narrowly failed in the Senate in April, but that the political momentum had not yet changed.
“We are going to move this up as quick as we can, but we’ve got to have the votes for it and we don’t have the votes,” Mr. Reid told reporters Tuesday. “I hope to get them, but we don’t have them now.”
Mr. Reid said he would be willing to bring up mental-health legislation to the Senate floor, even if it meant splitting it apart from the other gun-control measures that had initially accompanied it.
“That’s something we will look at,” Mr. Reid said. - Wall Street Journal, 9/17/13