One day after a twice-suspected terrorist killed 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan on Monday refused to allow any discussion calling for legislation barring suspected terrorists and individuals convicted of hate crimes from buying guns.
Ryan’s refusal to even allow discussion on the House floor came six months after Senate Republicans rejected a bill that would have blocked suspected terrorists from buying weapons. All but one Republican senator voted against the bill one day after14 people were killed in the San Bernardino, Calif., massacre by two ISIS sympathizers.
“If you need proof that Congress is a hostage to the gun lobby, look no further than today’s vote blocking a bill to prevent known or suspected terrorists from buying guns and explosives,” said California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) in December. “Congress has been paralyzed by the gun lobby for years, while more and more Americans are killed in mass shootings. The carnage won’t stop until Congress finds the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and protect the nation.”
The vote also came just weeks after theWashington Post reported that suspected terrorists had successfully purchased more than 2,000 guns from American dealers between 2004 and 2014.
Had the measure passed, it is possible that Orlando shooter Omar Mateen who had been investigated twice by the FBI for possible terrorist ties would not have been able to legally obtain the assault-style rifle he purchased just days before the attack.
On Monday, following a moment of silence in the House for the Orlando victims, South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, sought to speak about the upcoming one-year anniversary of the deadly church shooting in Charleston and attempted to ask Ryan when gun control legislation would be considered.
But before Clyburn could finish, Ryan smacked his gavel and ruled Clyburn’s question out of order.
Democratic lawmakers erupted on the House floor, chanting, “Where’s the bill” and “No leadership!”
“I think people are frustrated that all we do in response to these terrible atrocities is take 10 seconds to have a moment of silence,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) told reporters.
“The moment of silence is an act of respect and we supported that but it is not a license to do nothing,” added Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). She also noted that the House has had more than 10 moments of silence for victims of mass shootings in the past year and a half.
“We just think having moments of silence every time something like this happens rather than fashioning some response to what may be the causes of it [is a problem],” Clyburn told CNN.
Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton tweeted “@HouseGOP routinely holds ‘Moments of Silence’ after each mass shooting–underscoring their cowardly silence on even VOTING on gun reform.”
Democrats are seeking legislation on closing background check loopholes, preventing people on terrorist watch lists from buying guns and blocking anyone convicted of a hate crime from buying guns.
The front page of the New York Daily News on Monday summed up the frustration of the NRA’s stranglehold on Republican lawmakers. It featured an image of the AR-15 assault-style rifle Mateen legally obtained, despite being a known person of interest by the FBI, with the following text: “Thanks, NRA. Because of your continued opposition to an assault rifle ban, terrorists like this lunatic can LEGALLY buy a killing machine and perpetrate the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.”
Today’s front page…
50 dead in Orlando club massacre,
New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) June 13, 2016