Civil rights figurehead Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, re-upped the pressure on his Republican colleagues Wednesday to pass gun control legislation in the aftermath of Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Lewis and several of his House Democratic colleagues held a press conference on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to honor the victims of the shooting and protest Congress’ inaction on gun control in recent years. He was joined by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and former Congressman Gabby Giffords, who narrowly escaped death after she was shot in the head at a constituent meet-and-greet in 2011.
“This Congress has failed the American people. As in Newtown and Aurora and Charleston and Orlando, now in Las Vegas, how many more must die? A hundred? A thousand? 10,000? A million? What is your blood price? How many more must die?” Lewis asked, according to Politico. “But there’s no number, is there? There’s no amount of blood or pain or death or suffering that would move this Congress to act. We hold moments of silence and vigil. We offer our thoughts and prayers, but it’s all a show, a placeholder until people forget.”
The group called for passage of a bill that would strengthen firearm background checks. Lawmakers also want Congress to establish a bipartisan Select Committee on Gun Violence to study the issue and recommend other potential legislation.
The press conference came more than a year after Lewis and his colleagues seized the House floor for more than 24 hours to protest GOP leaders’ refusal to bring up gun control legislation in the aftermath of the deadly shootings at an Orlando night club. Lewis evoked his civil rights roots for the sit-in, which dominated social media as Democratic lawmakers streamed their protests live from the House floor.
Their effort did not work. House Speaker Paul Ryan declined to bring up for a vote anything that would tighten gun laws and raised the prospect of punishing the Democratic lawmakers for breaking the chamber’s rules.
Minds are not likely to change this time either. Lewis reportedly approached Ryan earlier this week to see if he would come to Wednesday’s press conference, Politico reported. Ryan declined.
This weekend’s shootings may have changed the fate of at least one piece of firearms-related legislation on Capitol Hill. Ryan apparently put a bill that would have eased restrictions on gun silencers on the back burner.
The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
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