Dems, Giffords to push gun reforms in wake of Las Vegas shooting

Democrats, joined by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), are amplifying their calls for tougher gun laws in the wake of the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Democrats on Monday quickly intensified their campaign after a gunman targeted an outdoor country music festival on the Las Vegas strip Sunday night, leaving at least 59 people dead and more than 520 others injured. The lawmakers have pressed for years for tighter gun restrictions, only to have those efforts beaten back on Capitol Hill, largely by Republicans, who are near-universally opposed to such changes. 

“I am praying for the victims of this shooting, their families and friends,” Giffords, who was almost killed after being shot in the head at a campaign event in Tucson in 2011, said on Monday. “But I am praying for my former colleagues, our elected leaders, too. I am praying they find the courage it will take to make progress on the challenging issue of gun violence.”

Other Democrats were much more forceful.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenObama tweets birthday message to Biden: 'The best vice president anybody could have' The Hill's 12:30 Report Tech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny MORE tweeted that “there’s no excuse for inaction.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he’s “furious” that Congress “refuses to act.” And Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyCongress must end American support for Saudi war in Yemen Jones raised 0K a day after first Moore accusers came forward: report Senate Democrats introduce bill to block Trump's refugee ban MORE (D-Conn.) urged Congress to “get off its ass and do something.”

“Nowhere but America do horrific large-scale mass shootings happen with this degree of regularity,” said Murphy, who, like Blumenthal, represents the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in 2012.

“Last night’s massacre may go down as the deadliest in our nation’s history, but already this year there have been more mass shootings than days in the year.”

Sunday night’s shooting, the deadliest in U.S. history, quickly consumed Capitol Hill Monday, upending a week that had promised a focus on the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and GOP efforts to build a wall along the southern border.

Democrats hastily scrapped plans to hold a Monday press conference aimed at pressuring the Trump administration for a more aggressive response to help storm victims in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Instead, they’ve scheduled a briefing to push for tougher gun laws such as enhanced background checks designed to keep firearms from the hands of potentially violent people.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), a gun owner and Vietnam veteran who heads the Democrats’ gun violence task force, will lead the charge outside the Capitol Monday afternoon. He will be joined by Giffords and other Democrats who have long pressed for tougher gun laws.

“Enough is enough,” Thompson tweeted Monday. “Congress should come together and establish a Select Committee to end gun violence.”

Democrats had launched a similar campaign last year, staging a sit-in on the House floor to protest congressional inaction following a mass shooting at an Orlando, Fla., nightclub that left 49 people dead.

Republicans have rebuffed the call for tougher gun laws, saying they impede Second Amendment rights. The House is scheduled to vote as early as this week on legislation easing access for gun suppressors.