Dems in Congress Protest GOP Grandstanding Over Orlando Shooting

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, House leaders held a predictable moment of silence on the floor to honor the 49 victims who lost their lives Sunday. But this time, some Democratic representatives were simply not having it.

One such Democrat was Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes, who indicated in a series of Twitter posts he would not participate in the moment of silence in protest of Congress’ consistent inaction on gun reform. Roll Call reports that he, along with Congressmen Joe Courtney (D-CT), John Larson (D-CT) and Peter Welch (D-VT), left the House floor when Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) called for the moment of silence.

Himes, Larson and Courtney all represent Connecticut, which suffered a tragedy of its own in 2012, when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 26 people, including 20 children. In the aftermath, Democrats in Congress tried—unsuccessfully—to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons.

Himes told ThinkProgress Congress uses moments of silence to deflect from taking real action, adding Congress’ “total, unconscionable deafening silence” makes the legislative branch “complicit in these murders.”

“We meet this tragedy week in and week out with smug, self-empowering moments of silence in the House that do absolutely nothing for anybody,” Himes said. “I’d love to interview one of the parents down in Florida and say, 'What does 16 seconds of silence in the House of Representatives mean to you?'”

Several other Democrats waited until the moment of silence was over to stand against House leadership and demand action.

"Where's the bill?" one Democrat chanted. “No leadership,” others added. According to the Hill, Democrats are seeking votes on three gun reform bills:

“Legislation to close the so-called Charleston loophole, which allowed the shooter in that case to buy a gun after three days even though a background check was not completed; prevent people who are on the FBI's no-fly list from buying guns; and prohibit anyone convicted of a hate crime from purchasing firearms.”

Ryan attempted to regain order, gaveling James Clyburn (D-SC) quiet as several more Democrats shouted in protest. Clyburn said he wanted to speak about the upcoming anniversary of the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Friday marks one year after a shooter opened fire at the historically black church during an evening prayer service, killing nine.

After the meeting, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called Ryan’s refusal to recognize Clyburn “really disrespectful.”

"The fact is that a moment of silence is an act of respect, and we supported that. But it is a not a license to do nothing,” Pelosi told reporters. "Members have just had enough of having one minute, a moment of silence on the floor, and then take no action.”

Watch video of the protest below, via NBC News.


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