Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She is a graduate of New York University, where she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, the Washington Square News. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

Aaron Alexis carved odd messages on the shotgun he used to kill 12 people at the Washington, DC Navy Yard on Monday, according to media reports.

Alexis carved "better off this way" and "my ELF weapon" on the shotgun, according to a law enforcement document reviewed by the Associated Press. That document described the firearm as a "sawed off" Remington shotgun.

It's unclear what Alexis meant in carving the messages. As the Washington Post pointed out, ELF can be an acronym for "extremely low frequency" and may refer to communications efforts.

Officials said Alexis was treated for a host of mental problems prior to the Navy Yard shooting, including insomnia, and had been hearing voices in his head. 

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) announced Wednesday that he plans to travel to Manchester, N.H. in November for the state Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson dinner.

O'Malley is reportedly considering a presidential run in 2016. New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hasan (D), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) are slated to join O'Malley at the dinner on Nov. 16 in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) on Wednesday defended a tweet he posted in the wake of the Washington, DC Navy Yard shooting that seemed to implicate the National Rifle Association in the incident, adding that he's not sure what the right wing holds more dear: guns or Bibles.

Cohen on Monday tweeted a political cartoon that depicted a rifle inscribed with "NRA" on the stock, which was part of a series of cartoons on gun violence. The gunman in the Navy Yard Shooting was widely speculated to have used an AR-15 rifle until the FBI said it had "no information"that was true. Instead, the FBI said he had a shotgun and handgun with him at the time of the shooting.

"I wanted to show we have gun violence, gun culture," Cohen told MSNBC's Alex Wagner on Wednesday. "We need to respond to it ... I think there definitely is a connection between the NRA and the continuing gun culture that we have that needs to be limited to protect Americans."

When Wagner asked what Cohen made of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) assertion that there aren't enough votes to revive gun control legislation that failed in the Senate in April, Cohen said "it's sad." The Tennessee Democrat agreed the votes just aren't there.

"The Republicans will shy away from it," he elaborated. "I got the vitriol on Twitter from all these people that opposed that cartoon. They are hardcore Republicans. This means more to them. I think their guns are right there next to their Bibles. I'm not sure which they find more important to them."

Correction: This post originally incorrectly described the gun depicted in the cartoon as an AR-15. It has been updated to clarify that the cartoon did not classify what type of rifle was depicted. It has also been updated to correct a reference to the stock of the gun.

The mother of Aaron Alexis, the man police identified as the gunman who killed 12 people at the Washington, DC Navy Yard on Monday, told NBC News Wednesday that she was heartbroken over her son's actions.

"Our son, Aaron Alexis, has murdered 12 people and wounded several others," Alexis' mother, Cathleen Alexis, told a reporter from her Brooklyn home. "His actions have had a profound and everlasting effect on families of the victims. I don't know why he did what he did and I'll never be able to ask him why. Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, and for that, I am glad. To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that has happened. My heart is broken."

A pro-gun group has filed a lawsuit against Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and the state's new gun control legislation, the Denver Post reported Tuesday.

The Rocky Mountain Gun Owners organization filed the suit on Sept. 4 in district court, a spokeswoman for the group, Danielle Thompson, told the newspaper. Thompson said the suit claims new laws mandating universal background checks and limiting ammunition magazines to 15 rounds are unconstitutional. 

"Rocky Mountain Gun Owners will fight to keep the constitutional rights of Coloradans intact by challenging these laws on every front," the group's executive director, Dudley Brown, said in a news release, as quoted by the Post. "Two anti-gun Colorado senators were rejected by their constituents last week, and we are now looking to overturn these laws in court."

Former Colorado Senate President John Morse (D) and state Sen. Angela Giron (D) were both ousted last week in a recall election that drew spending from national groups including the National Rifle Association and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Both Morse and Giron had voted for the new gun control legislation.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he has already taken all the steps within his authority to advance gun control, and it is now up to Congress to act on gun legislation.

Telemundo's Jose Diaz-Balart asked Obama if in the wake of mass shootings like the one that took place Monday at the Washington, DC Navy Yard and last December in Newtown, Conn., Americans were condemned to live in a country where such shootings are "part and parcel" of daily life.

"Well, we don't have to be," Obama responded, according to a transcript provided by Telemundo. "And the overwhelming majority of the American people understand that there's some commonsense gun safety laws that we can put in place that could prevent some of this tragedy from happening." 

The president noted that news reports indicated the man identified as the shooter in the Washington Navy Yard shooting, Aaron Alexis, had a history of mental health issues.

"The fact that we do not have a firm enough background-check system is something that makes us more vulnerable to these kinds of mass shootings," he said.

Obama left further action on gun control in the hands of Congress, however, arguing that he has already enacted a slew of executive actions to address the issue.

"I have now in the wake of Newtown initiated a whole range of executive actions," he continued. "We've put in place every executive action that I proposed right after Newtown happened. So I've taken steps that are within my control. The next phase now is for Congress to go ahead and move."

This post has been updated.

A Michigan man died after being shot multiple times Tuesday afternoon at a suburban Chicago gun range, the Associated Press reported.

Authorities told the AP that Michael Babinski, 49, died in the hospital several hours after being shot in the neck and head at Midwest Guns in Lyons, Ill.

Police said they were reviewing surveillance footage and investigating the incident, which they believe was an accident, according to the AP.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday assured he would not use his executive authority to halt deportations for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country.

Obama told Spanish-language television network Telemundo that the move is "not an option," as quoted by the Washington Post.

The president said his decision to defer deportations for DREAMers, or undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, was intended to give federal agencies adequate time and resources to devote to high-priority immigration cases. He added that expanding deferments beyond DREAMers “would be ignoring the law in a way that would be very difficult to defend legally," as quoted by the Post.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) warned in August that Obama may act unilaterally to legalize undocumented immigrants by executive order if Congress fails to act on immigration reform.

Obama also called on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to bring the Senate's immigration reform plan to a vote in his chamber.

“He shouldn’t be afraid of majority opinion on this thing,” Obama said, as quoted by the Post. “If in fact the overwhelming majority of the American people think we need to do something on immigration — we’ve got a bipartisan bill — why not go ahead and let it come to the floor of the House and let’s see what happens?”

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) is expected to announce on Oct. 3 whether she's running for governor.

“There’s one question I’ve gotten quite often in the past few months,” Davis wrote in an email to supporters Tuesday, as quoted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “What’s next? 

“On Oct. 3, I’ll be answering that question,” the email continued. “I truly appreciate all the work that you — my grassroots team — have done for me thus far. And I’m excited about what we can do together in the future.”

Speculation has been mounting for months as to whether the Fort Worth Democrat, who gained national recognition after her 11-hour filibuster of an abortion bill earlier this year, would run for reelection to her state Senate seat or take the leap to replace Gov. Rick Perry (R). Davis was originally expected to make the announcement around Labor Day, but postponed her decision to care for her sick father, Jerry Russell, who passed away earlier this month.

Texas Republicans are skeptical that Davis has the momentum to win statewide office. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) said he doesn't "think she stands a chance," and an advisor to Davis' would-be gubernatorial opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), recently tweeted a blog post titled "Total Recall in CO (and why Wendy Davis is too Stupid to be Governor)."

The FBI said Tuesday that it has no information at this point indicating Aaron Alexis, the Navy contractor identified as the gunman who killed 12 people Monday at the Washington, DC Navy Yard, was in possession of an AR-15 assault rifle.

Valerie Parlave, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office, said in a news conference that Alexis entered the Navy Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) building with a shotgun and may have obtained a handgun once inside the facility.

Parlave added that the FBI determined Alexis arrived in the metro area on or around Aug. 25 and stayed in local hotels. Alexis was most recently known to have stayed at a Residence Inn in Southwest Washington starting on Sept. 7, she said.