Frustrated Democrats chanted “where’s the bill, where’s the bill” on the House floor Monday as they tried to demand action from the Republican majority on gun control legislation.
The loud and emotional outcry came after lawmakers observed a moment of silence for the scores of people killed and injured in the mass shooting in Orlando over the weekend.
Rep. James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, then rose to speak about the upcoming one-year anniversary of a deadly shooting at a church in Charleston where nine people were killed and attempted to ask GOP leaders when gun control legislation would be considered.
But Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, gaveled down Clyburn and other Democrats – many wearing rainbow ribbons on their lapels in honor of the LGBT victims in Orlando – and ordered the House to vote on an unrelated pending matter, further angering Democrats who felt they were disrespected.
“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,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts.
“The moment of silence is an act of respect and we supported that but it is not a license to do nothing and … Republicans have afforded it that power,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, the minority leader, who noted that the chamber has had about 11 moments of silence for the victims of mass shootings in the last year and a half.
“I think it’s egregious the speaker didn’t allow Mr. Clyburn, the assistant leader of the Democratic caucus, to speak when he asked for time. He should have allowed him to speak,” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-California. “He wanted to raise the anniversary of South Carolina and he also wanted to raise the issue on where is the legislation.”
Clyburn wants the House to act on three gun control measures: One dealing with what he called the “Charleston loophole” that allowed gunman Dylann Roof to buy weapons since a background check that he would have failed was not completed in three days; the second would prevent people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list from buying guns; the third would block anyone convicted of a hate crime from buying a gun.
“We just think having moments of silence every time something like this happens rather than fashioning some response to what maybe the causes of it (is a problem),” Clyburn told reporters.
“The American people are crying out for commonsense solutions and commonsense gun legislation,” Rep. William Clay, D-Missouri said, calling Republicans “tone deaf’ on the issue.
Ryan declined to comment about the Democrat’s complaints as he walked off the floor, telling a reporter he doesn’t do interviews in the hallway.