House Speaker says ‘Congress should do its job’ on gun reform, but preaches patience
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — In the wake of the deadly mass shooting in a high school in Florida, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have so far struggled to come up with a solution in the contentious gun control debate.
“Congress should do its job,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Thursday morning, before calling for patience, not action.
“We need to step back,” Ryan said, and “pull together,” adding now is “not the time to jump to conclusions.”
But Democrats disagree, adamantly insisting Congress must start listening to the will of the American public.
“Washington is unwilling to listen to our constituents and we should start,” Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, said Thursday. “We have a generation of children that is growing up in our country who have to go to school worrying about this happening and that’s not fair to them.”
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said he agreed that something needs to be done, but he isn’t supporting any specific action.
“Just because I don’t have an easy answer at my fingertips doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to find the right answer,” he said.
His constituents have spoken up though since the shooting, and have said “enough is enough,” and that they want Congress to do something.
Rubio said he agreed. “The question is, what is that something that will work?”
“We can pass laws, there are plenty of ideas out there, but those laws wouldn’t solve the problem,” Rubio said.
Asked if mental health laws deserve a second look, given all the red flags raised about the alleged shooter in Florida, Rubio said “potentially,” but noted “a lot of that is at the state level too.”
“There isn’t a single gun law that’s been proposed here would have prevented a single one of these mass shootings,” he said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., continues to push legislation that would ban assault weapons, like the AR-15 used by the alleged gunman in Florida. She has also led the charge to ban bump stocks, like the device used in the Las Vegas shooting –- an effort that is now stalled on Capitol Hill, despite initial glimmers of compromise.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, disagreed with his colleagues calling for stricter gun controls.
“This is not a gun control issue, this is an idiot control issue,” he said.
But Connecticut Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy, an outspoken advocate for gun control, said Congress is to blame.
“There’s a reason why this happens in the United States and nowhere else, because of Congressional inaction,” he said. “If you are not working today to try to fix this, to try to stop these shootings, then you’re an accomplice. Those are tough words but they’re true.”
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