While Frustrated By Week, Gun Control Supporters Say They'll Continue To Fight
Gun control supporters aren’t too happy with how the week turned out. While some expressed their outrage over the U.S. Senate’s rejection of several bills, others have held demonstrations in response to the House’s lack of votes. But, they’re still holding out hope that something can be done on the federal level to help curb gun violence.
“No bill,” North Florida Congresswoman Gwen Graham shouted several times, during a recent sit-in on the House floor.
“No break,” other lawmakers replied back.
“Congress can’t sit by or stand by as more Americans die,” Graham said, to cheers and applause. “It’s time for us to act.”
Graham and other House Democrats demanded the Republican-led House vote on gun control measures, during the sit-in that lasted a little over a day.
“We need smarter gun safety laws to keep our streets, our schools, our sanctuaries whether it’s a church in Charleston or a club in Orlando,” she added.
But, in response to the protest, Speaker Paul Ryan adjourned the House early until July 5th.
That didn’t deter Democrats. And, a few hours before the sit-in came to a close Thursday, South Florida Congressman Ted Deutch gave an impassioned speech.
“20 six-year-old and seven-year-old babies were slaughtered in Newtown,” he said. “This House has done nothing since then. And, so, yeah, I am tired, I am cold, and I am hungry. But, these are feelings that I am so privileged to have because so many will never feel that again.”
Sandy Hook elementary school children weren’t the only victims of the mass shooting in Connecticut in 2012. Six were adults.
“My name is Erica Lafferty Smegielski, and I am the proud daughter of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, who was shot and killed at Sandy Hook three and a half years ago,” said Erica Lafferty Smegielski, on a recent conference call.
Lafferty Smegielski’s mom was the principal of Sandy Hook. And, when the Senate recently rejected four gun control proposals, she was very angry.
“I am livid that Congress did not do its job, despite the historic filibuster launched by my home state Senator Chris Murphy and despite the nearly 200,000 people, who reached out to Congress over the past week, whether they were making phone calls, signing petitions, or calling for action to disarm hate, after the tragedy in Orlando,” she added.
Lucy McBath, the mother of slain teen Jordan Davis, was also disappointed. Her son was fatally shot during a dispute over loud music at a Jacksonville gas station.
“My beautiful son Jordan was taken from me in the blink of an eye and the pull of a trigger on November, 23, 2012,” said McBath. “Jordan was only 17-years-old. Just as my son has been stolen from me, there have been countless other shootings.”
McBath is encouraged by the House Democrats’ sit-in for more gun control laws, and says the fight isn’t over. And, as part of a group called Everytown for Gun Safety, she’s taking that fight to the ballot box.
“So, I say to those who failed us, make no mistake, we will remember in November,” she added. “This time, there’s a counterweight to the gun lobby, and Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, and the Everytown Survivor Network are going to make a gun safety litmus test for electing candidates, come this November.”
Amid turmoil over gun control in Congress, a bipartisan proposal by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) managed to survive a procedural vote: 46-52. But, it may still not have the 60 votes needed to pass. The bill prevents those on the no-Fly List from buying guns as well as those on a “selectee list” who must receive extra screening at airports.
“Basically, 2,700 that are being watched for terrorist actions, do I want them to be able to go and get one of those killing machines,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).
Nelson got a provision into Collins’ proposal to alert the FBI if someone taken off the terrorist watch list within the last five years buys a gun. He says it could have helped in stopping the Orlando mass shooter, who’d been taken off the terrorist watch list. Omar Mateen had been interviewed three times in 2013 and 2014 by the FBI. He bought the assault rifle about a week before the Orlando attack.
“It won’t stop his purchase, but it will ping the FBI so that the FBI will have that information and can act on it and go question him again,” added Nelson. “That’s not too much to ask for those of us all that stand up for the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.”
But, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) disagrees. In a statement, Rubio—who voted against keeping Collins’ proposal in play—says “it does not afford law-abiding Americans their full due process rights.”
For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.