Centrist Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.) broke with members of his party on Tuesday and called on the House to take up legislation to increase scrutiny on gun purchases in the aftermath of a mass shooting in Orlando.

In a House floor speech two days after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Dold began by using a line frequently used by Democrats calling for expanded gun control: “Thoughts and prayers are not enough. And it’s time for action.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Dold, who represents a suburban Chicago district, is one of the most vulnerable House Republicans up for reelection this year. He has long held more centrist positions on gun control than most other House Republicans in a reflection of the swing district he represents. 

Last year, for instance, he introduced legislation with Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellPelosi focused on narrow impeachment probe on Ukraine: report Pelosi announces launch of formal impeachment inquiry into Trump More Democrats threaten impeachment over Trump's dealings with Ukraine MORE (D-Mich.) to prevent people who have abused dating partners from buying or owning guns, which would expand on the current prohibition for individuals convicted of abusing a spouse or household member. 

But Dold went a step further on Tuesday and joined Democratic calls for the House to immediately take votes on bills to prevent terror suspects from buying guns or explosives; requiring universal background checks for gun purchases; enhancing the background check system to ensure local law enforcement is notified when someone fails a background check; and his measure with Dingell to block domestic abusers’ access to guns.

“In short, there are numerous commonsense proposals that will keep guns out of the hands of those that should not have them, while protecting our Second Amendment rights,” Dold said. 

“There is no quick and easy solution to all the problems underscored by the Orlando terrorist attack. But if we’re able to set aside partisan differences and unite in the best interests of our nation, we can make serious strides in the ongoing efforts to keep Americans safe and prevent future atrocities,” he concluded.

Moreover, the "no fly, no buy" bill Democrats are pushing wouldn’t have directly prevented the Orlando suspect from buying his gun. The suspect was removed from the government’s terror watch list after the FBI closed its review due to a lack of evidence for any charges.

A total of 49 people died at the gay nightclub Pulse early Sunday morning, and 53 more were wounded. The suspect pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) during a 911 phone call, according to FBI Director James Comey. Law enforcement officials have said that the suspect had been interviewed by the FBI three times during earlier investigations, in 2013 and 2014, yet was able to purchase firearms legally shortly before Sunday's massacre.

House and Senate Democrats have been renewing their push for expanded gun control following the most recent mass shooting. On Monday night, the House chamber erupted into shouting after lawmakers observed a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando attack.

"Where's the bill?" Democrats chanted, while others shouted, "Show some respect!"

House Democratic leaders said afterward they're pushing for votes on three specific bills: legislation to block people on the FBI's terror watch list from buying guns; close the so-called Charleston loophole, which allowed the suspect in last year's shooting to purchase a gun after three days even though his background check wasn't finished; and prevent anyone convicted of a hate crime from buying firearms.

House Democrats used a procedural vote for unrelated legislation on Tuesday that, had it gone their way, would have forced a vote on a bill banning people on the FBI's terror watch list from buying guns.

Democrats had previously tried the maneuver 11 other times for what they have deemed the "no fly, no buy" bill in the aftermath of last year's terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.

Despite calling for a vote on the bill earlier in the day, Dold sided with fellow Republicans during Tuesday's procedural vote. Centrist Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), meanwhile, was the only lawmaker who broke with his party.

Procedural votes in the House almost always fall along party lines, regardless of their content, as a show of partisan discipline. Voting with the minority party on a procedural vote is viewed as a rejection of the majority leadership's management of the House.

"We have no right to hold moments of silence without days of action to honor the victims of gun violence. House Democrats will continue to demand that we close the scandalous ‘No Fly, No Buy’ loophole immediately," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement after the vote.

Republicans have largely focused on the Orlando shooter's suspected sympathies to ISIS in response to the shooting, rather than the role of guns.

"We need to be clear about who did this," Ryan told reporters during a press conference Tuesday morning. "This was another act of war against America by radical Islam."

Updated at 4:09 p.m.