The lawmaker who represents the district where a deadly shooting at an elementary school took place three years ago pointedly stood in silence on the House floor Wednesday.

Rep. Elizabeth EstyElizabeth Henderson EstyConnecticut elects first black congresswoman Former aides alleging sexual harassment on Capitol Hill urge congressional action Rising Dem star in Connecticut says people like me ‘deserve a seat at the table’ in Congress MORE (D-Conn.), whose district includes Newtown, noted the coming Dec. 14 anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 children. She lamented the repeated moments of silence on the House floor for mass shootings instead of legislative responses.

“It has now become the habit that after every new tragic mass shooting that claims the lives of more innocent Americans, this House merely acknowledges a moment of silence and then goes back to business as usual,” Esty said.


She then asked for unanimous consent to bring up legislation that would prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), who was overseeing the proceedings, denied the request on the grounds that the House was only conducting “morning hour” speeches and therefore would not entertain a motion for legislative business.

Esty, apparently expecting the denial, then said she would conclude her remarks with pointed silence.

“I will therefore stand quietly for the remainder of my time to protest the appalling silence and inaction this House’s refusal to take meaningful action to protect the American people from the ravages of gun violence,” Esty said, before proceeding to do so for approximately 15 seconds.

GOP leaders have called for focusing on mental health reform in response to recent mass shootings like those in San Bernardino, Calif. and Colorado Springs. 

Shortly after Esty spoke, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) took to the floor to urge a vote on his legislation to reform the nation’s mental health system. 

The Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee advanced Murphy’s bill last month, but continued talks are holding up a vote by the full panel.

Murphy’s bill does not directly address guns. Instead, it includes measures such as creating an assistant secretary for mental health and increasing the number of available psychiatric hospital beds.

“This chamber has to stop postponing action on reforming our mental health system and bring to the floor H.R. 2646,” Murphy said.

“At some point, if we are serious about helping those with serious mental illness, we have to bring it for action,” he added.

In the meantime, Democrats are aggressively pushing the measure to prevent people on the government’s no-fly list from purchasing firearms. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) introduced a discharge petition this week that would force a vote if it acquires 218 signatures. 

Democrats also held up floor proceedings for hours on Tuesday as they repeatedly forced motions to adjourn as a means of calling attention to the bill.

With little legislative business scheduled in the House as lawmakers await a deal on a spending bill, Democrats appeared poised to hold up proceedings again on Wednesday. Within an hour after the House convened for legislative business Wednesday afternoon, Esty forced a vote on another procedural motion to call attention to the no-fly measure.

“How can we go home and look our constituents in the eye and tell them that we are doing everything we can?” Esty asked.