The mass shooting that killed 17 people Wednesday at a high school in Florida plunged Capitol Hill back into a debate over gun restrictions, as Democrats cried out for some type of legislative response, criticizing the response of President Donald Trump and GOP leaders in the Congress.
“Mr. President, are you listening?” said Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) on the House floor. “We need common sense gun safety legislation.”
It was a familiar political reaction in the House and Senate, as Democrats gave anguished speeches, rattled off a list of horrifying mass shootings, and asked when there would be some type of government response.
“All I can think is how many more times do we have to go through this?” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who repeatedly asked on the Senate floor, “When is enough, enough?”
On the House floor, Democrats cheered when Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) asked the chair, “can you tell us when the House may muster the courage to take up the gun violence?”
“What will it take for this body to finally grapple with this issue?” said Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ).
“Why is nothing happening?” asked Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL), who cited the lack of action after the Pulse nightclub shooting in his hometown of Orlando.
In terms of legislation, Democrats have pressed tighter background checks on gun sales, ‘no fly, no buy,’ which would prohibit people on the airplane ‘no fly’ list from buying weapon, along with other ideas like a ban on certain assault weapons.
Democrats again pointed to the use of an AR-15 assault rifle in this latest school shooting, as lawmakers once more said there should be limits on the sale of those type of weapons.
“An AR-15 is not for hunting, it is for killing,” said Sen. Nelson of Florida.
Just a few months ago, there had been talk of doing something about “bump stocks,” which were used in the mass shooting at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas – but no legislative action has taken place.
Democrats have increasingly criticized expressions of “thoughts and prayers” along with moments of silence, arguing those don’t do anything.
“Today we didn’t even have a moment have a moment of silence, because the House knows those are meaningless acts,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN).
There had been a plan for a moment of silence on the House floor, but it was evidently scrapped after activists in the House galleries were loudly protesting approval of a piece of legislation related to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Regardless of the calls for action, those in favor of gun control legislation face the same difficulty to move forward on their plans which has existed in Congress since the mid-1990’s – they don’t have anywhere close to the votes needed to approve such measures.