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Anniversary of Capital Gazette Mass Shooting Brings Calls for Weapons Ban

Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) reflected on the first anniversary of the deadliest newsroom shooting in American history and called upon their Republican colleagues in the Senate to enact common-sense gun safety measures immediately.

“One year ago, at the Capital Gazette, five innocent people died while supporting a publication that has long held an unwavering commitment to preserving the freedom of speech in our community. We will remember their lives and their contributions and their families, and we will not stop working to advance badly needed gun safety legislation that is long past due,” said Senator Cardin.  “Unfortunately, those lost at the Capital Gazette were not alone. In this country, more than 300 people are shot and 100 killed every single day of the week, seven days a week. This is completely unacceptable, and it should make it unthinkable to do nothing. Yet that is exactly what Senate Republicans are doing – refusing to vote on expanded background checks, to close the gun-show loophole, or to renew the ban on assault weapons. Their inaction must no longer be an option.”

Today, one year ago, a gunman stormed the Capital Gazette newspaper’s office in Annapolis, Maryland and killed five employees. Six others escaped the building. Two of them were injured, in what was noted as the “single deadliest day for journalists in the United States since 9/11.

“Friday marks one year since we lost Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters. On this day — and every day — we should celebrate their lives and commemorate their good works. But this is not enough. Congress continues to languish in inaction as Senate Republicans refuse to take action on gun violence. This is nothing more than pure cowardice. I will continue calling on my colleagues to set aside politics and act in response to the will — and the best interests — of the American people. Anything less is unacceptable,” said Senator Van Hollen.

Earlier this week, Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced legislation that would authorize a national memorial to fallen journalists. The privately funded Fallen Journalists Memorial would be constructed on federal lands within the District of Columbia and honor journalists, photographers, and broadcasters killed in the line of duty. Senator Van Hollen is an original cosponsor of the bill.

Howard University communications student Alexus McDonald told the Informer that the Capital Gazette shooting serves as a constant reminder that journalists often risk their lives – or become the unwitting targets of violence because of the stands they take in producing news copy.

“One of my professors asked my Colloquiums class three years ago what story we would risk our lives to tell; it sobered us quite a bit because we all think of writing fun stories or doing investigative pieces, but rarely consider how powerful are words can be,” McDonald said.  “There are times when our jobs – whether in the newsroom or in a war zone, place us on the front lines.”

Our five colleagues at the Capital Gazette [were] gunned down and we’ve seen, around the world, journalists under attack, Tribune chairman David Dreier said on CNNs Reliable Sources. I think that recognizing the fact that people have lost their lives and building a memorial is something that is going to be really important.

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