Hoyer Doubts Navy Yard Shooting Will Change Gun Laws

Hoyer, right, said he doesn't think Monday's mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard will move Congress to change gun laws.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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."

Topics: guns regp