Many Democratic leaders, including two from Oregon, implored Congress to take action Monday after the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 dead and more than 500 injured.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi addressed a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, urging him to “create a Select Committee on Gun Violence to study and report back common sense legislation to help end this crisis.”
Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer tweeted, “Enough is enough. We must protect our families & stop gun violence in America. The solutions shouldn’t be hard,” and included a link to his gun control plan.
Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley tweeted multiple times about gun control, writing, “How many more parents need to bury their children before Congress acknowledges the need to take action to reduce gun violence?”
Congress is currently debating two major laws to loosen gun restrictions.
One bill would make permits to carry concealed weapons valid across state lines, effectively undermining states that have chosen to enact stricter gun laws. The other would make it easier for people to buy silencers, which advocates say would limit hearing damage for hunters and recreational shooters, but which opponents say could make it harder for police to locate gunmen during an active shooting.
Hillary Clinton, the former Democratic presidential nominee, urged supporters to “stand up to the NRA” on that bill.
Giffords, who was grievously wounded in 2011, and her husband Mark Kelly were at the Capitol on Monday. They said the nation’s thoughts and prayers are not enough and Congress must pass legislation to keep deadly weapons out of the wrong hands.
Kelly and Giffords had planned to campaign for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam, but instead they went to the Capitol to comment on the shooting.
Citing President Donald Trump, Kelly said “Americans need more than our president’s prayers. We need his plans.” Kelly is calling for a commission to work on solutions to gun violence. He says it’s the only acceptable moral course for the country.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said it’s time for Congress to do something about mass shootings.
Murphy, a leading gun-control proponent, said mass shootings had become an “epidemic” in America.
He said “it is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic.”‘
Connecticut was a catalyst for gun control debate after the Sandy Hook massacre, and one of the state’s Democratic senators, Richard Blumenthal, said he was “furious” at Congress’ inaction.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachussetts said a conversation about how to stop gun violence needs to happen now.
Former Vice president Joe Biden, who led an Obama administration task force on gun violence, said there was “no excuse for inaction.”
The political discussion after mass shootings tends to follow a familiar script, with Democrats calling for gun restrictions and Republicans responding by saying Democrats are too quick to politicize tragedies and defending gun rights.
And already, there is some blowback from the right.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a conservative Republican who challenged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a primary a few years ago, slammed those he called “political opportunists.”
The White House also responded Monday, saying the day after a mass shooting is not the time to renew a debate over gun control. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said during a press briefing Monday that there is a “time and place” for a debate but that is “not the place we’re in at this moment.”
She said President Donald Trump was focused on the victims and stressed that it was a “time to unite the country.”
Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama frequently used mass shootings to call for stricter gun control laws. Trump did not mention firearms during his remarks earlier Monday after a gunman in Las Vegas and killed 58 people and injured at least 515 others.
The Republican president has cast himself as a friend to firearms owners and the powerful National Rifle Association lobby.
The public has been divided on gun control, largely along party lines, according to an August NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Half of respondents said they were concerned the government will go too far in restricting the rights, while 45 percent said they were worried the government will not do enough.