Feinstein: Background check law could have prevented Navy Yard shooting

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California doubled down on her call for heavier gun control Tuesday, lamenting that gun rights zealots wait to buttonhole her at her hair salon.

Feinstein said  a background check law, of the variety that congress failed to pass earlier this year, would have flagged Aaron Alexis, the gunman who shot and killed 12 people at Navy Yard on Monday morning, and prevented him from purchasing the weapon he used.

Feinstein is a vocal gun control advocate, who issued a new call for gun control legislation after the shooting Monday. The debate had been largely dormant after a compromise amendment failed to pass the Senate in April.

“We’re talking about a background check which would have picked up this person if, in fact, he did have three gun incidents that got into the system in terms of reports, he would’ve been picked up and denied the ability to have a gun,” Feinstein told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday.

But Feinstein said she was “not optimistic right now” that any legislation of the sort could be passed in the Senate, much less in the Republican-controlled House.

“I’m going to have my hair done this morning and there’s somebody outside the salon waiting for me who says, ‘Are you going to try and take our guns away again?’ With, you know, malevolence. It’s that attitude, that, the lack of, I guess, care and concern about the survival of the general public so that somebody can have a house full of weapons.”

Other Democrats have also joined the call for gun control legislation in the wake of Monday’s shooting.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who represents Connecticut, the site of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 26 people dead, 20 of them young children, decried the lack of congressional action.

“It’s unconscionable that we sit by and do nothing in Washington as 6,000 people have died across the country since Newtown, 13 more yesterday,” he told reporters.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin also called for a legislative response, saying on the Senate floor Tuesday morning: “We’ve got to do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands who would misuse them. Felons who have a history of misusing firearms. The mentally unstable can’t be trusted to have a firearm.”

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