09/17/2013 10:21 am ET Updated Sep 17, 2013

Steny Hoyer: Navy Yard Shooting Will Renew Gun Control Debate

WASHINGTON -- House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on Tuesday that he expects the tragic shooting at the Navy Yard will renew the debate around gun control, although he was pessimistic about prospects for passing new restrictions.

"I'm sure that it will renew the discussions about access to weapons that can be used to kill a lot of people quickly," he said at a breakfast discussion hosted by Politico's Morning Money.

On Monday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) -- one of Congress' strongest gun control advocates -- put out a statement calling for just that.

"When will enough be enough? Congress must stop shirking its responsibility and resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence in this country," she said. "We must do more to stop this endless loss of life."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, however, said it was "inappropriate" to talk about the issue at this point.

"In almost every one of these instances [of mass shootings], we've seen the perpetrators be people who individuals thought were unstable," said Hoyer on Tuesday. "In this case, apparently this guy was prone to violence. He had apparently shot the tires out of a neighbor's vehicle. He'd shot through the ceiling of another neighbor. He was given a general discharge from the Navy. So there was no doubt that this was somebody who had a record of instability and certainly should have been, I think, subject to closer scrutiny, particularly in access to the facilities at the Navy Yard."

Additionally, the AP reported that Alexis had been suffering from various mental illnesses and "had been hearing voices in his head."

An FBI official said one shotgun and two pistols were recovered from the crime scene, and the Washington Post reported that Alexis shot a security guard at the Navy Yard "most likely with a shotgun he bought in Lorton in Fairfax County."

Hoyer lost three constituents in the shooting.

The minority whip supports an assault weapons ban, but he has long said he doubts the GOP-controlled House would pass such legislation.

He was pessimistic again on Tuesday, pointing to the recent recall of two Colorado state senators, who were targeted by the National Rifle Association after they voted for stricter gun laws.

"Now one can analyze who comes out to special elections," he said. "But it [the recall election] does not bode well for asking people to vote for legislation similar to that which just went down in the Senate a few months ago."



Politicians React To Navy Yard Shooting