Dem: Moments of silence after mass shootings are 'killing us'
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A day after the deadliest mass shooting in three years, several Democrats took to the House floor to express their frustration with the routine moments of silence that are held in the aftermath of massacres.

“When are we really going to stand up and do something? Just who has to die? Your mother, your wife, your son or just how many?” Rep. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyHHS expands Medicaid postpartum coverage for Illinois mothers up to a year after giving birth Democrats spar over COVID-19 vaccine strategy Lawmakers emphasize prioritizing patients' needs in health care policy MORE (D-Ill.) asked.

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“We need to stand up, speak up and take action, rather than another moment of silence," she said. "It’s deafening, and it’s killing us."

Wednesday’s shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., left at least 14 people dead and 21 injured. Another shooting in Savannah, Ga., on the same day resulted in one death and three injuries.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) paused the annual Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony Wednesday evening to hold a moment of silence for the San Bernardino victims. 

A day before that, the House held another moment of silence on the floor for the victims of last week’s shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo. But as Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) eulogized the victims of the shooting in his district right before the moment of silence on Tuesday, multiple lawmakers could be seen continuing individual conversations with each other in a breach of usual decorum.

Rep. John Larson John Barry LarsonTo encourage innovation, Congress should pass two bills protecting important R&D tax provision Democrats have a growing tax problem with SALT On The Money: Social Security gives IRS data for COVID-19 relief checks | Senate passes bill heading off Medicare cuts MORE (D-Conn.) cited a BBC report about Wednesday’s shooting in San Bernardino describing it as “just another day in the United States of America.” He lamented the silent legislative response to recent shootings — literally.

“If the United States Congress continues to remain silent, as it has, I submit we are complicit in these deaths,” Larson said.

“It doesn’t take a lot of courage, frankly, to vote. We are protected in this building by police, we are surrounded by armed guards, there’s nothing that threatens any member of Congress from doing its constitutional responsibility to vote,” Larson added.

“What takes courage is what Officer Garrett Swasey did just last week to give his life in the line of duty defending and protecting people under siege,” Larson said, referring to the police officer who was killed during last week’s shooting at the Colorado Planned Parenthood facility.

In the aftermath of the December 2012 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Senate Democrats tried to pass legislation to expand background checks. But it never cleared a GOP filibuster in 2013 and has not come up again for consideration since.

“Maybe, Mr. Speaker, instead of a moment of silence, the American people could get a moment of action,” said Rep. Scott PetersScott H. PetersBiden clean electricity standard faces high hurdles House Democrats introduce carbon pricing measure Democrats target Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act MORE (D-Calif.).

House Republicans, including Ryan, say the answer to mass shootings is mental health reform and are seeking to move a bill to the floor early next year.

“What we have seen is a theme of mental illness,” Ryan said Thursday on CBS's “This Morning.”

“We need to fix our mental illness laws and policies. They’re outdated. That’s something we’re working on right now.”