Washington – Once again there’s been a mass shooting, at another school no less, and Washington once again has become the center of the debate on how to respond to these continuing massacres.
But few expect any action.
Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, told MSNBC the gun lobby and conservatives in Congress have made gun issues “a purity test.”
“They have a tool that works” even “in this building” to block progress on gun violence, Himes said.
There was a brief debate in Congress on banning of bump stocks after November’s Las Vegas shooting. Himes said that conversation changed quickly, from what can be done to “bump stocks are only used in a tiny percentage of killings.”
Calls for Congress to act were renewed after confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz, a troubled, 19-year-old who is in police custody, killed 17 people and wounded 14 during a shooting spree at a Parklawn, Fla., high school Wednesday.
Yet Himes said there is not a single piece of gun control legislation that has even a 2 percent chance of “going anywhere” in Congress.
He also said until the American people, starting with those in Florida, “start going to town hall meetings with my colleagues and say this is really critical to me, and if you don’t show some backbone, if you don’t show some spine” I’m going to vote against you, there won’t be any change in how Congress responds.
Connecticut’s lawmakers were at the forefront of the outrage over congressional inaction.
Within hours of the Florida shooting Wednesday, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who became a senator just weeks after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in 2012, took to the Senate floor and blamed Congress “for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.”
Like other lawmakers who support tighter federal gun restrictions, Murphy is taking the long view.
On Thursday he tweeted “lots of people lamenting ‘nothing will change’ today. That’s what people said before the Montgomery boycott. That’s what people said before Stonewall. Change happens, if at the moment when it seems most unlikely, you decide to do more.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal also spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday about the Parkland shooting.
On Thursday he tweeted, “We cannot accept a world where so many of America’s elected representatives put fidelity to the NRA over their constituents’ demands for action on gun violence. “
At a Ways and Means Committee hearing Thursday, Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to “carry a message” back to President Donald Trump .
“I do believe that this president can make a dramatic difference by calling upon this Congress to act on a multitude of areas. Not the least of which is this tragic issue we face,” Larson said. “Hailing from Connecticut and experiencing Sandy Hook and the disasters that just keep on coming. When they come for one of us and we do nothing, who’s next? “
The Newtown Action Alliance issued a statement on the Parkland shooting Thursday, saying it was the 18th since January 1, 2018, and the 291st since the Sandy Hook tragedy.
“We have repeatedly warned other communities that if it could happen in Newtown, then it can happen anywhere,” the alliance said. “Americans should not be shocked when these mass shooting incidents occur in their communities. The elected leaders in the majority of statehouses, governor mansions, U.S. Capitol Building and the White House have failed to pass gun control legislation to end gun violence in America since the Sandy Hook tragedy.”
The statement also said “until more Americans hold their local, state and federal elected representatives accountable, our children are not safe in our schools or in any public space.
The alliance also said, “Nothing is more despicable and dishonorable than elected officials who say ‘now is not the time to talk about gun control’ and blame only mental illness for these school shootings.”
“The current president and the Republican Members of the 115th Congress have demonstrated that they will not take any action even after two of the deadliest mass shooting incidents in America’s modern history that occurred in the last five months,” the alliance said. “Any elected official who only sends thoughts and prayers after this latest shooting are willing to sacrifice our children to protect the gun industry profits and they should be voted out in 2018 and 2020.”
A number of gun control bills were reintroduced in Congress after the massacre in Las Vegas in November, including one that would have banned the semi-automatic rifle used by Cruz in the Parklawn high school.
The Newtown Action Alliance urged Congress to pass those bill, which is not likely.
A major reason is that attitudes towards gun violence split along partisan lines.
A CBS poll taken in December showed that 48 percent of Democrats said gun violence is “a crisis” and another 32 percent said it is ‘very serious.” Only nineteen percent of Democrats polled said it was “not serious.”
Meanwhile, only 19 percent of Republicans said gun violence is “a crisis,” 42 percent said it was “very serious,” and 41 percent said it was “not serious.”