Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Navy Yard shooting: Sen. Feinstein iffy on reintroducing gun control bill

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) takes to Senate floor

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California Sen. Dianne Feinstein awaits "change of will" on Capitol Hill before reintroducing assault weapons ban

The shootings at Washington’s Navy Yard were just a mile from the U.S. Capitol. Much of the conversation on Capitol Hill Tuesday has been about security at military facilities. But gun control is on the mind of California’s senior senator Dianne Feinstein.

The four-term democrat was one of the first lawmakers to respond to Monday's shooting, calling it “more of the same, except it’s a different place.” She says “virtually every part of our life is no longer safe.”

Feinstein was the author of a federal assault weapons ban that Congress allowed to expire in 2004. Feinstein reintroduced the measure after the elementary school shooting last winter in Newtown, Conn. But it was voted down on the Senate floor this spring – 40 to 60. 

RELATED: Identities of 12 victims emerge in Navy Yard shootings

Feinstein says "not to be able to succeed is hard." She says she’d be willing to reintroduce the measure, but only “if there’s some signs that there is a change of will” on Capitol Hill. If not, she says she doesn’t “understand what would be gained by it.” 

The Senate also failed to get enough votes this spring on a narrower measure to expand background checks. Feinstein said she’d “vote tomorrow for strong background checks that would have weeded out this fellow and kept him from buying a weapon.” 

Questions about the type of weapon Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis used  arose after unverified reports indicated an AR-15 assault rifle had been found at the scene. On Tuesday, FBI official Valerie Parlave said her agency had no information that Alexis had an AR-15 in his possession.

RELATED: Navy Yard shooter used valid pass to get on site

Feinstein has been passionate about gun control for decades.  She was president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978 when Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were shot and killed.

Feinstein says she doesn’t know what it will take to change the hearts and minds of fellow lawmakers in Congress. She says mass shootings have become “almost expected. And it’s terrible.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that an AR-15 rifle was found at the scene of the Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C. An FBI official told The Associated Press that they have no information that he had such a weapon in his possession. The reference has been removed.

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