Democrats to GOP: Prayers are not enough (Politico)
Democrats are scolding their Republican colleagues for not backing up their calls for "thoughts and prayers" with real action that could curb the gun violence plaguing the United States.
As Americans are still trying to make sense of Wednesday's massacre in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 and injured another 17, Democratic voices are saying enough with the platitudes.
Appearing on CNN's "New Day" on Thursday morning, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said he is through with moments of silence, noting that he had just been part of a moment of silence on the House floor mere days ago after a gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that killed three last Friday.
"This has become a ritual in the House. I would much rather have moments of action than moments of silence on the House floor," Schiff said.
"Your 'thoughts' should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your 'prayers" should be for forgiveness if you do nothing - again," tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Wednesday, whose own state is approaching the three-year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown.
As the situation unfolded thousands of miles away in California, Richard Blumenthal, one of the state's Democratic senators, tweeted that "Congress is effectively complicit for its inaction."
In the aftermath of Wednesday's shooting, in which the motive is still unknown, several Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates shared messages on social media expressing that their thoughts and prayers went out to the victims and their families. Newly installed House Speaker Paul Ryan asked for a moment of silence on Wednesday evening as he kicked off a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. "Before I begin I just want to say that we are all thinking of the current and ongoing tragedy in California today," Ryan said. "Please keep the victims and their families in your prayers right now."
There has been growing frustration that little has been done in Washington regarding gun violence, despite a series of wrenching and frequent mass shootings. The most significant reform push came after the December 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in which 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adults. But the legislative effort ultimately fell apart, with reform advocates continually pleading for action as the number of mass shootings pile up. The Washington Post reported Friday that more mass shootings had occurred than days in the year — 351 mass shootings in 334 days.
Many have blamed the entrenched power of the National Rifle Association, while others have placed some fault with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for not pushing forcefully enough and seizing on fleeting momentum sparked by some of the shootings.
As the situation was still unfolding on Wednesday afternoon, Obama expressed frustration in a CBS News interview with Norah O’Donnell that there appears to be no end in sight for these tragedies.
“We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world,” Obama said. “And there's some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don't happen as frequently.”
Obama said the still-stalled effort to enact new gun controls is unacceptable. The U.S. has no-fly lists, he noted, but those same people can go anywhere in the country and purchase a firearm. “And there’s nothing that we can do stop them,” said Obama, echoing his repeated calls for Congress to pass common-sense gun safety laws and stronger background checks.
“We don't yet know what the motives of the shooters are, but what we do know is, is that there are steps we can take to make Americans safer and that we should come together in a bipartisan basis at every level of government to make these rare as opposed to normal,” he said. “We should never think that this is something that just happens in the ordinary course of events, because it doesn't happen with the same frequency in other countries.”
It’s not clear, however, that gun reform has any better chance now than it has in the recent past.
At least one paper joined Democrats in taking offense to Republicans' condolence messages in light of the latest shooting.
"GOD ISN'T FIXING THIS," the New York Daily News' front page blared Thursday, featuring tweets from Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and presidential candidates Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
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