House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has said the Republicans’ failure to act on gun violence “is about money”, calling them a “wholly-owned subsidiary” of gun rights lobbying groups.
In the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas – the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history – Democrats have again repeated their calls for gun control legislation.
But Republican leaders so far have swatted away questions about gun policy, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying it was “premature” to discuss legislative solutions.
On Wednesday, Ms Pelosi made clear her feelings on the reason for inaction on the issue. “The Republicans in Congress are [a] wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America,” she said, referring to two of the US’s most prominent gun rights organisations.
While House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders have asked Americans to donate blood in the wake of the shooting, Ms Pelosi said Republicans “have to give some political blood. They think their political survival is more important than those 59 people. It isn’t.”
The shooting in Las Vegas led to the deaths of at least 59 people, including the gunman, and left more than 500 injured.
“This Congress has failed the American people,” said Congressman John Lewis as he stood alongside his Democratic colleagues on the steps of Capitol Hill. “How many more must die?”
Democrats also asked House Speaker Paul Ryan to form a select committee to craft “common sense legislation” that will prevent mass shootings.
However, despite calls by Democrats for a legislative solution to gun violence, congressional action on the issue is not expected. Recent mass shootings in Colorado, Connecticut and Florida all failed to unite Congress on any legislative response.
A bipartisan bill regarding background checks failed four years ago. Since then, Republicans have often pointed to mental health legislation when asked about the appropriate congressional response to gun violence.
Mr Ryan said during a radio interview that “bad people are going to do bad things”.
Speaking to WISN radio in Milwaukee, he defended the GOP emphasis on prayer after the horrific violence and maintained that it was wrong “to turn this into some political football, some policy debate before we even know all the details”.
“What I don’t think you want your government to do is to lurch toward reactions before even having all the facts ... and to grab onto a policy or political cause in such a moment,” the speaker said.
But Ms Pelosi and other Democrats said the Las Vegas massacre was merely the latest – and most horrific – in a long series of deadly shootings that occur nearly every day.
“This isn’t just about what happened in Nevada, which is reason enough to do something, but it’s happening on the streets of our cities on a daily basis,” Ms Pelosi said.
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