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White House: Officer's Slaying 'Underscores' Need for Congress to Act on Gun Laws

Wendy Howard, sister of murder victim Crystal Hamilton, reflects Feb. 29, 2016, at a makeshift memorial outside the home where Hamilton and three police officers were shot in Woodbridge, Va. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The White House today framed the death of a rookie Virginia cop as an example of why new gun laws are needed, even though press secretary Josh Earnest said he didn’t know what law might have prevented the crime.

Police said the wife of Ronald Williams Hamilton, 32, was able to contact police before he shot and killed her. Crystal Hamilton, 29, was found dead inside the Woodbridge, Va., home. The couple’s 11-year-old son fled the home and was uninjured.

Hamilton then allegedly ambushed the three officers who responded to the Saturday night domestic violence call. Prince William County Police Officer Ashley Guindon, 28, who was also a Marine Corps reservist, was shot and killed on her first day on the job. Officers Jesse Hempen, 31, and David McKeown, 33, were wounded.

Hamilton is an active duty Army staff sergeant assigned to the Joint Staff Support Center at the Pentagon. He was charged with capital murder in Guindon’s death and first-degree murder of his wife.

“Every day, men and women like Officer Guindon put themselves in harm’s way to protect innocent lives. It is unfortunate that we live in a world where not everyone respects that kind of dedicated selflessness,” Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) said today. “Officer Guindon spent six years as a Marine Corps reservist, and by all accounts, was passionate about serving others.”

At the White House press briefing, Earnest was asked whether President Obama had reached out to the fallen officer’s family.

“Obviously, we saw the news over the weekend, and it’s heartbreaking that an individual who was a reservist in the United States Marine Corps was, in demonstrating her commitment to public service, and she is doing the kind of thing that we see hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officials do every single day, which is she put on the uniform, prepared to put her life on the line to protect her community. And unfortunately, it was the very first time she put on that uniform that she paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Earnest replied.

“And that’s tragic, particularly when you see how young she was and how much promise her career had,” he added. “So obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with her family and with the law enforcement agency that she worked for. I don’t have anything to tell you right now about any presidential communication, but I would anticipate that we’ll be in touch.”

Earnest said the crime “underscores” Obama’s message “that it’s long past time for Congress to take some common sense steps that would reduce gun violence.”

“I don’t know what kinds of laws would have been required to prevent this particular incident from occurring, but if there is even one incident of violence that we can prevent, particularly if that incident of violence is against a police officer, then shouldn’t Congress take it? It certainly seems to me that they should fulfill that responsibility,” Earnest said.

“…When you’ve got Republicans in the majority in both the House and the Senate, they vowed to use the majority to get Congress moving again, to do some common sense things, but yet they have not done any common sense work to make our communities safer from gun violence. And again, when you have, you know, a nominee that’s come forward and, by their description, is seeking to hijack the party, it seems like you make that a lot easier when you’re not willing to do your job even though you’re in control of the United States Congress.”