By Andres Del Aguila
WASHINGTON – Scores of Congressional Democrats convened on the steps of the Capitol Wednesday to honor the victims of the Las Vegas massacre and demand action from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on gun control.
“Congress has failed the American people,” Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a prominent civil rights leader, said at the news conference. “After Newtown and Aurora, after Charleston and Orlando, now Las Vegas. How many more must die?”
“No more,” yelled members of Moms Demanding Action, an organization dedicated to gun violence prevention.. The group was created after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six adults were murdered.
Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) honored the victims by mentioning a few of them in her speech, arguing “something has to change.”
“Tragically, it’s too late for them but it’s not too late for someone else … someone who might be your daughter or your son,” she said.
The Democratic representatives called for gun control legislation such as universal background checks and demanded Ryan create a select panel on gun violence prevention.
“Have courage, be unafraid, do your job, bring common sense control gun legislation to a vote,” Lewis said. “We need it and we need it now.”
Lewis then criticized Republican efforts to loosen gun laws, citing the deregulation of silencers in the SHARE Act, which Ryan pulled from the House agenda on Tuesday.
Ryan (R-Wisc.) told reporters Tuesday that mental health care reform that is being implemented will help prevent future mass shootings.
“One of the things we learned from these shootings is that often underneath this is a diagnosis of mental illness,” Ryan said.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at a Tuesday news conference that it is “premature” to consider gun control legislation, calling for Congress to wait to jump into the gun control debate until the Las Vegas investigation is completed.
Former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a victim of a 2011 mass shooting where six people were murdered, called for bipartisanship to address mass shootings that have increased in number and fatalities since 2000, according to an FBI report.
“Stopping gun violence takes courage…,” Giffords said Wednesday. “Now is the time to come together – be responsible. Democrats, Republicans, everyone. We must never stop fighting; fight, fight, fight. Be bold. Be courageous. The nation is counting on you.”