Navy Yard shooting: Gun control discussion must happen again, mayor says

Gray called on lawmakers nationwide to take a deeper look at their gun control laws. Photo: Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) - The slaying of 12 innocent people at the Washington Navy Yard is yet another signal that national leaders must enact measures to prevent weapons from getting into the wrong hands, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said Thursday.

In an appearance on NewsTalk with Brianne Carter on NewsChannel 8, Gray emphatically declared that it's time for local and national leaders to stop simply analyzing these events of mass murder and actually act on what they learned.

"It cries out for a national intervention," Gray said. "We can't have 51 separate sets of laws, but people move about."

The District of Columbia has some of the most stringent gun laws in the United States, but the man who carried out Monday morning's mass shooting, Aaron Alexis, was able to purchase a gun in Northern Virginia just days before the rampage.

It's not clear whether or not the gun that Alexis bought at a gun range in Lorton was used during the Navy Yard shooting.

Regardless, Gray says that it's time for a national change to be made, not just in the wake of the shooting in his city, but the ones in Newtown, at Virginia Tech and at Fort Hood.

"It's time for our national leaders to institute measures to make it more difficult to get these weapons in their hands," Gray said.

The mayor also called for a further investigation into why an elite Capitol Police tactical unit was ordered to stand down after arriving at the Navy Yard just minutes after gunfire erupted.

Capitol Police officials confirmed Wednesday that they're looking into reports that one of its heavily-armed Containment and Emergency Response Teams was told by a watch commander to stand down despite being one of the first law enforcement teams to get to the shooting scene.

"I have no idea why Capitol Police would have been told to stand down," Gray said. "On its face, it makes no sense. We need to know why that was a direction that was given."

Gray once again pointed out that he was incredibly proud of the work and coordination that multiple agencies carried out during after the shooting, including MPD, D.C. Fire/EMS and United States Park Police, among others.

He specifically singled out Ofc. Scott Williams, the D.C. police officer who was shot in the leg while responding to the shooting.

"I couldn't believe the positive spirit of this man after he came within a matter of seconds, inches or minutes of having his own life taken," he said. "I'm very proud of the first responders. Their work was phenomenal."

The mayor said that he he has had the chance to either talk to or meet the families of 11 of the 12 victims who died as a result of the shooting, including the longtime wife of Arthur Daniels, the 51-year-old Southeast D.C. man who was shot in the back during the attack.

"They were married for more than 30 years," Gray said of Arthur and his wife, Priscilla. "She told me about their sons, all of whom have the first name Arthur.

"Your heart breaks when you hear and see something like this. These families have been changed forever. What are we going to do?"

In the wake of reports that Alexis was had been treated for mental illness before the shooting, Gray appeared dismayed that the discussion about upping funding for treatment of such disorders is not a more prominent issue.

"The history of mental health funding in this country has either been flat or has gone down," Gray said. "There's not the support that should be there."

While Gray is hopeful that the issue will be debated again, he seems resigned to the fact that change may not be forthcoming.

"This discussion will start again, but you can take a lottery on the day that it will stop and we'll go back to doing what we usually do," Gray said.