While thoughts and prayers are a nice sentiment and reveal good intentions when offered by most people, they clearly are not enough to stop rampant gun violence in America. Despite gun control policies favored by both Democrats and Republicans, and the percentages in both parties rising after violent events, time and time again, Congress generally does not act.
On Monday night, Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) got fed up and walked out of the legislative chamber during a moment of silence for the victims of the Sutherland Springs shooting. Lieu later tweeted that he did so to protest his colleagues’ lack of action after yet another mass shooting.
Rep. Lieu, who wants to pass universal background checks, ban assault rifles, and ban bump stocks, broadcast a statement on Facebook Live:
“My colleagues right now are doing a moment of silence. I respect their right to do that and I myself have participated in many of them. But I can’t do this again. I’ve been to too many moments of silences. Just in my short career in Congress, three of the worst mass shootings in US history have occurred. I will not be silent. What we need is we need action, we need to pass gun safety legislation now. I urge us to pass reasonable gun safety legislation … We need to do that. We cannot be silent. We need to act now.”
When asked if he was politicizing the moment by a news anchor, Lieu said, “I view it as doing my job to highlight this issue because you don’t want Congress to just do moments of silences every time a mass shooting happens.”
Rep. Lieu may have an unlikely ally in Congress to get the background check needle moving. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) announced on Tuesday that he would introduce legislation that would require federal agencies to file all conviction records with the National Instant Criminal Background Check system. It’s a step that may have prevented Devin Patrick Kelley from acquiring a gun.
Last month, efforts to ban or regulate bump stocks made infamous by Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock stalled soon after being introduced in Congress, part of an all-too-familiar trend of interest waning as quickly as the news cycle. A bipartisan discussion has since resumed on the devices.