Pelosi: GOP Congress beholden to NRA, other gun interests
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans in Congress of being “a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America” as she and other Democrats bemoaned the lack of action by the GOP majority to address gun violence after the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
The GOP’s failure to act “is about money,” Pelosi said after a rally Wednesday morning outside the Capitol.
While House Speaker Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders have asked Americans to donate blood in the wake of the shooting, Pelosi said Republicans “have to give some political blood. They think their political survival is more important than the survival of those 59 people” who died in the Las Vegas shooting, as well as the school children who died in Newtown, Connecticut, and club-goers killed in Orlando, Florida.
“It isn’t,” she added.
Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia said at the rally that thoughts and prayers were not enough.
“How many more dead bodies will it take to wake up this Congress?” Lewis asked. “This (gun violence) must stop and it must stop now.”
Former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was grievously wounded in a 2011 shooting, urged lawmakers to “be bold, be courageous. The nation is counting on you.”
The Democratic rally, which included dozens of activists assembled near the Capitol steps, came after Republican leaders made it clear Congress will take no action on gun legislation in the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas.
GOP leaders refused to entertain Democratic demands to expand background checks for gun purchases and tighten restrictions on semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines — and they also shelved their own House bill that would have loosened access to gun silencers.
“I think it’s premature to be discussing legislative solutions, if there are any,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday.
Ryan, R-Wis., said there is no plan for the House to act soon on the silencer bill, which a Republican-led House committee backed last month. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, said it would help hunters protect their hearing.
The silencer bill is “not scheduled right now. I don’t know when it will be scheduled,” Ryan said Tuesday.
The congressional inaction underscored the power of the National Rifle Association and the political stakes for lawmakers who maintain their support for the constitutional right to bear arms and fear any challenge to their fealty.
Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., said action on guns after Las Vegas was unnecessary. “We are not going to knee-jerk react to every situation,” he said.