Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D.-Calif., issued a statement on Monday shortly after the Washington, D.C. naval yard shooting, criticizing Congress for “shirking its responsibility” in not instituting new gun control laws.
“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,” Feinstein wrote.
“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."
Feinstein is one of the leading advocates in the Senate for a new assault rifle ban. Following the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn. in December, she introduced legislation that would have made multiple types of firearms, mainly semiautomatics, illegal, though it failed to pass.
While early reports on Monday stated that Aaron Alexis, the suspected shooter, was armed with an AR15 rifle, it’s since been confirmed that he was not.
“FBI Washington field office just confirmed gunman was NOT armed with AR15. Spokesperson says 1 shotgun and 2 pistols recovered,” CNN reporter Pamela Brown tweeted on Tuesday.
Echoing Feinstein’s sentiments, nonvoting Washington, D.C. delegate Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton criticized the country’s “loose” gun laws for allowing the shooting, even though Washington, D.C. has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
“There is no indication this was a terrorist event,” Norton said. “But I hope we all understand that with all these guns loose in the society, it doesn’t take a terrorist to do what was done here today.”
So-called “assault weapons” have been a target of gun control advocates since the original assault weapons ban ended in 2004. Recent mass shootings, including the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting and Sandy Hook involved variants of the AR15, which is one of the most popular assault rifles in the country.
While these recent mass shootings have involved an assault rifle, the crime rate involving rifles is quite low.
According to FBI statistics for 2012, rifles were used in only 2.5 percent of homicides in the United States, or 322 out of 12,765 murders. (There’s no differentiation among types of rifles).
A report from the Department of Justice earlier this year also found a decrease in overall gun crime over the last 20 years. The report found that nonlethal gun crimes in the United States dropped 69 percent between the years of 1993 and 2011, and murders involving guns dropped 39 percent.