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Two Md. Senators Call For Action Following Navy Yard Shootings

Two Md. Senators Call For Action Following Navy Yard Shootings

The massacre at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday has led to calls for more restrictive gun legislation.

Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md) says it's time for common sense measures, such as universal background checks. "Gun owners think it's a good thing to do," he says. "Eliminating these large ammo capacity clips is something we should enact in our country. It saves lives and will not inconvenience gun owners."

Many critics of gun regulations say the nation already has enough laws on books which cover firearms. "We do have laws on the books. The problem is the background check is not universal," Cardin responds. "So a person can go into one state, where they're  not really allowed to own a gun. But because there's not a background check, someone who has a mental problem or is a convicted felon can get a gun and come into another state."

The gunman in the Navy Yard shootings, Aaron Alexis, was able to purchase a shotgun at a Virginia gun store. He also was a troubled man, who once called police in Rhode Island, claiming he was hearing voices. He killed 12 people at the Navy Yard before he was fatally shot by police officers.   

Cardin  also supports a ban on assault weapons. "Local law enforcement will tell you that 'if you want to help the police, get rid of assault weapons.' That's not a fair contest when a law enforcement officer comes up with someone who has an assault weapon," he says.

Maryland's Senior Senator, Barbara Mikulski (D), supports background checks and keeping guns away from those who shouldn't have them, such as those with mental health issues. But she wants to go further. "This is where I truly agree with the NRA. We've got to do something about mental illness, and early detection and early treatment," Mikulski said, in a speech on the Senate floor. She also remembered the six Maryland residents who died in the Navy Yard shootings, and offered her prayers and sympathy.

In the past, gun rights groups like the NRA have fought tooth and nail against any new regulations covering firearms, claiming they infringe on 2nd Amendment rights. But Cardin says the aim of background checks, banning large ammo clips and assault weapons, is not to take away  law-abiding Americans rights  to own guns. "The tragedy that took place in{Newtown,} Connecticut, where young children in their classrooms were killed. It tells me that we should do what's right to help them without infringing on the lawful right of citizens to have guns," he says.


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