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Posts in "Guns"
August 14, 2014
Three senior Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are calling on panel chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., to hold hearings on the violence that has erupted in Ferguson, Mo., following the police shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager on Aug. 9.
“For the past five days, the citizens of Ferguson have protested the killing of of an unarmed teenager by local police,” wrote ranking member John Conyers Jr., Mich., and two subcommittee chairmen, Robert C. Scott of Virginia and Steve Cohen of Tennessee, in their letter on Thursday afternoon. “Last night, law enforcement broke up the protest with brutal force: confronting demonstrators in riot gear and armored vehicles, arresting journalists, and firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.
“These incidents raise concerns that local law enforcement is out of control and, instead of protecting the safety and civil liberties of the residents of Ferguson, is employing tactics that violate the rights of citizens … this situation requires immediate congressional scrutiny,” they continued. Full story
May 27, 2014
Mental health bills are getting a fresh look after the Isla Vista massacre, with lawmakers in both chambers and both parties pushing Congress to act.
In the aftermath of the killing spree blamed on Elliot Rodger, Democrats activated, issuing what seem like ritual news releases and tweets ripping Congress for failing to act on gun legislation, particularly in the wake of the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn.
But few expect Congress to resurrect a gun debate in the shadow of the midterm elections. Full story
May 25, 2014
Elliot Rodger — the man accused by police of committing a massacre Friday night in California — sparked a renewed call to pass a mental health bill in Congress.
“Our hearts break for the victims and families affected by the tragedy near Santa Barbara. We pray for their souls to find peace. But I am also angered because once again, our mental health system has failed and more families have been destroyed because Washington hasn’t had the courage to fix it,” said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa.
“How many more people must lose their lives before we take action on addressing cases of serious mental illness?” Full story
April 3, 2014
Updated 5:50 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner Thursday morning said that Congress had recently passed a provision to address whether people with mental health issues have access to weapons, but the measure’s Republican author said his bill actually does nothing of the sort.
Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., told CQ-Roll Call that despite Boehner’s assertion, his measure to incentivize outpatient treatment for mental health issues has nothing to do with keeping guns out of the hands of the severely mentally ill.
“Not our bill, no. It’s a whole different issue,” Murphy said. “I think he confused that. When he said that it dealt with it, I think he confused that.”
At his regular weekly press conference, Boehner was asked whether Congress should act to address Wednesday’s mass shooting at Fort Hood. He responded by telling reporters that Congress approved “funding for a pilot project dealing with mental health issues and weapons” as part of the “doc fix” deal to keep doctor pay from being cut.
“There’s no question that those with mental health issues should be prevented from owning weapons or being able to purchase weapons,” Boehner said. “This issue we need to continue to look at to find ways to keep weapons out of the hands of people who should not have them.”
Another deadly shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas has pushed still unresolved issues related to the massacre there nearly five years ago back to the congressional forefront.
Even before Wednesday’s incident that reportedly left four dead and 14 wounded, Texas lawmakers in particular have been continuing to push for victims from the November 2009 tragedy to be recognized by the federal government. Nidal Malik Asan killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at Fort Hood — an incident that shocked the nation and kicked off debate inside and outside of Washington.
For one, there were issues with the compensation benefits for the veterans wounded and the families of those killed — and the Texas delegation has fought for years to award Purple Hearts to the soldiers killed or wounded.
Another debate has centered on exactly how to classify the shooting: was it a terrorist attack, or an act of work-place violence?
Earlier this week, Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, issued a press release detailing his intentions to question Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. over why the Obama administration did not label the shooting an act of terror.
Late Wednesday as more information about the shootings was revealed, Carter issued a statement pointedly referencing the 2009 incident.
“The idea that a second attack could happen at Fort Hood is heartbreaking not only to the victims, but to the survivors. The knowledge that a soldier could attack another soldier is devastating to the emotional wellbeing of our troops, which is why in the aftermath of this tragedy support for our troops is more important than ever,” Carter said. “We need to rally around the community and provide the safety and security these people deserve. It is my mission in Congress to ensure that the victims of the 2009 attack and today’s attack are protected and helped from this point forward. While we do not know the motives of the shooter at this time, I will continue to investigate this crisis until all the facts are known. But for now the best we can do is to pray and support the community.”
November 13, 2013
A rump group of House Republicans are tired of waiting for answers from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. — they want him impeached and will formally introduce their charges Thursday.
As Roll Call previously reported, a small group of GOP lawmakers have been drafting articles of impeachment for Holder over a string of controversies, including a Department of Justice refusal to turn over documents related to Operation Fast and Furious, a refusal to uphold certain laws — namely the Defense of Marriage Act, the Controlled Substances Act and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 — and a refusal to prosecute IRS officials who accessed tax records of political donors and candidates without authorization. The articles of impeachment also charge that Holder provided false testimony to Congress — a “clear violation” of law.
Texas Republican Pete Olson, who is leading the charge behind the Holder articles of impeachment, said this wasn’t a decision he took lightly.
“Since the House voted in 2012 to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, the pattern of disregard for the rule of law and refusal to be forthright has continued,” Olson said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “The American people deserve answers and accountability. If the Attorney General refuses to provide answers, then Congress must take action.”
Olson told CQ Roll Call that he would be dropping the articles of impeachment Thursday. On Wednesday, he released a five-page white paper explaining the four articles of impeachment against Holder. Full story
September 17, 2013
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said the Navy Yard shooting Monday could bring gun legislation back into congressional focus — but he doesn’t think much will be accomplished.
“I’m sure it will renew the debate as to what policy we pursue to not necessarily eliminate — because I’m not sure that’s possible — but to substantially reduce the gun violence,” the Maryland Democrat said at the beginning of his weekly pen-and-pad briefing with reporters, noting that one of the things that “seems to be a system or pattern” in these tragic acts is the shooter’s “prior indication of imbalance.”
But, the House minority whip said, gun politics are tricky.
Hoyer mentioned the recent recall elections of Colorado State Senate President John Morse and State Sen. Angela Girón, Democrats who were removed from office for their support of background checks and a ban on guns that hold more than 15 rounds.
“So, yes, I think it will bring up debate, whether it will bring up action is problematic,” Hoyer said. “If ‘the past is prologue,’ our prologue is not very hopeful.”
He said that many guns rights activists are single-issuer voters, outside groups hold “great sway, particularly in the Republican party” and support for more restrictive gun laws doesn’t “manifest itself at the polls.”
That led one reporter to press Hoyer on whether they would have a vote if Democrats were in control.
“I think taking a vote …” Hoyer said, before trailing off. “First of all, it’s not going to have a vote, so even if I were in the majority … I’m not the Majority Leader,” he said. “The politics have changed.”