House Speaker Paul Ryan led a moment of silence on Monday night for victims of the Orlando massacre and then swiftly moved on to other business, causing Democrats to erupt in anger over Republican inaction on guns after the latest mass shooting, the worst in American history, which took the lives of 49 people.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 14, 2016
Some lawmakers walked out of the House chamber before the moment of silence began in protest, including Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.). Earlier in the day, Himes declared he would not participate in any more moments of silence as a form of protest of the lack of legislative responses to mass shootings.
“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,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters off the House floor afterward.
“Members have just had enough of having one minute, a moment of silence on the floor, and then take no action,” she said.
After the moment of silence ended, Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) tried to seek recognition, a request Ryan denied.
Clyburn told reporters that he wanted to speak about the upcoming anniversary — this Friday — of the shooting at a historically black church in his district a year ago in Charleston, S.C.
“I think that we have some appalling silence taking place in this body when we ought to be responding,” Clyburn said.
Ryan denied Clyburn recognition.
Democratic leaders said they want votes on three specific 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 wasn’t 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.