As the end of 2013 approaches, the Washington Examiner is taking a look back at the biggest stories and issues of the year. Today, it's the contentious gun-control debate.
Guns entered 2013 on the political forefront after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012, and President Obama looked to tighten existing laws early in the year. He struggled to compel Congress to act, but firearms issues resurfaced in July after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in Trayvon Martin's death and in September after a workplace shooting left 12 dead at the Washington Navy Yard.
Here are some of the top Examiner stories of 2013 on gun control:
Rampage puts focus on better vetting of federal contractors after shooting
By Steve Contorno, Sept. 18
After computer contractor Aaron Alexis shot and killed 12 workers at Washington Navy Yard, lawmakers aimed to tighten up the vetting of independent defense contractors.
A damning audit released by the Department of Defense Inspector General warned that the Navy's approach to background checks put the military branch at risk of a tragedy like the Navy Yard shooting. The report revealed that the Navy tried to cut costs by skipping or watering down security measures, including FBI background checks designed to weed out terrorists.
The audit found that the Navy had granted security clearance to 52 contractors with felony convictions. In cases in which contractors were vetted, background checks were often limited to a simple and unreliable review of public records. In some instances, civilian workers were able to access buildings even after their contracts expired.
Obama paints himself into a corner over Trayvon Martin
By Brian Hughes, July 17
More than a year after the president said, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," Washington waited to see if the Justice Department would bring federal charges against George Zimmerman after the neighborhood watch coordinator was acquitted of second-degree murder charges.
Attorney General Eric Holder vowed that his department would root out any racial stereotypes causing violent confrontations, telling both a black sorority in Washington and the NAACP in Orlando that his office was not done investigating the shooting inside a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Federal prosecutors started an examination of the killing last year, and the longer it goes, the more questions emerge about whether the Justice Department has enough evidence to bring a case.
Despite White House efforts to distance the president from the department's investigation, Obama inevitably will have to answer for how his administration proceeds.
Lawmakers take aim at 3-D gun printing
By Tim Mak, Nov. 29
As the 25-year-old law banning the manufacture of guns not easily screened by metal detectors came up for renewal in December, the rise of 3-D printing technology brought new questions about gun control to the Capitol.
"The prototype for a gun that could be created through 3-D printers — deemed ""the Liberator"" by its designers, a Texas group called Defense Distributed — was downloaded more than 100,000 times since it was uploaded online earlier this year. The original host took down the blueprints after the State Department objected.
[New York Democratic Sen. Chuck] Schumer has warned of the “scary pace” of plastic gun development, and says that anyone with an Internet connection and ""a little over $1,000"" can now produce an undetectable plastic gun.
“We are looking at a world in which anyone with a little bit of cash can bring an undetectable gun, that can fire multiple bullets, anywhere — including planes, government buildings, sporting events, and schools,” Schumer said."
Newtown family member sends out email plea for gun control on behalf of Obama lobbying group
By Susan Ferrechio, June 14
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown shook the nation and in turn revived the need for stricter gun control laws. Six months after the incident, the daughter of the school's principal who died wrote an email to sign an online petition for Congress to pass gun control laws.
"Erica Lafferty, whose mother Dawn Hochsprung, died trying to stop the shooter, sent out an emotional plea in an email on behalf of Organizing for Action, asking people to sign onto an online petition aimed at pressuring Congress to pass gun control legislation.
“I’m asking you to join me today, six months after that horrible day, to keep this fight going,” Lafferty said in the email.
“Take action for my mom, Dawn, and the 25 other people who we lost in December.” "