Dems: GOP 'complicit' in mass shootings

Republicans' refusal to consider tougher gun laws makes them "complicit" in the nation's mass shootings, Democratic leaders charge in the wake of the shooting in Orlando.

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"These 49 victims joined a long list of victims and families that are hurting because their Congress will stand for a moment of silence but do absolutely nothing," Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Tuesday morning after a closed-door meeting of the group in the Capitol.

"They would rather these events just continue to happen, I guess. I don't know what the answer is," Crowley added.

"They're complicit in this by not acting and not taking a stance in some way."

Other Democrats are piling on, accusing GOP leaders of siding with the powerful gun lobby — which opposes virtually any new gun restrictions — over both public sentiment and the safety of their own constituents.

Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraCalifornia leads states in lawsuit over Trump public charge rule Overnight Energy: Trump sparks new fight over endangered species protections | States sue over repeal of Obama power plant rules | Interior changes rules for ethics watchdogs California counties file first lawsuit over Trump 'public charge' rule MORE (Calif.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said the Republicans' inaction "is a choice" that has "proved harmful."

Rep. Corrine BrownCorrine BrownFormer Florida rep sentenced to five years in prison for fraud, tax evasion Genuine veteran charities face a challenge beating the fakes Former Florida rep found guilty of tax evasion, fraud MORE (D), who represents the district that includes Orlando's Pulse nightclub, said "the community expects us to do more."

And Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) lamented the "moments of silence ad nauseum" without a single gun vote on the floor.

"We've not had one single vote on any piece of legislation that tries to make sure that we do everything possible to keep people who shouldn't have guns from getting guns," Thompson said.

"It's an embarrassment. It's an act of cowardice and … we should all be ashamed of ourselves."

Republican leaders, meanwhile, are focusing their attention on the Orlando shooter's religious beliefs and his past scrutiny by the FBI.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan moving family to Washington Embattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Ex-Parkland students criticize Kellyanne Conway MORE (R-Wis.), who led the chamber in a moment of silence for the victims Monday night, addressed the tragedy again Tuesday morning at GOP national headquarters by emphasizing the shooter's suspected ties to Islamic terrorist groups.

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

Ryan blamed President Obama for lacking a plan to tackle homegrown terrorism. He did not mention the gun issue.

Sunday's massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando has reignited the gun reform debate in both chambers, with Democratic leaders calling for tougher restrictions like those they've pushed following similar mass shootings in years past.

Among their priorities, Democrats are pushing Thompson's proposal to bar those on the government's terrorist watch list from buying guns — a designation that bans them from flying but not purchasing or owning firearms.

The shooter in Orlando, Omar Mateen, had been questioned by the FBI in 2013 and 2014, but the probes were dropped for a lack of evidence and he was removed from the government's terrorist watch lists.

The sequence of events has complicated the Democrats' push for Thompson's bill, because it would not have prevented Mateen from buying weapons. The Democrats acknowledge the nuance, but insist that's no reason for Congress not to act to prevent other suspected terrorists from committing the next atrocity.

"The failure to have a piece of legislation that will solve all the problems is not a license to do nothing about it," said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.).

Thompson floated the idea of tweaking his bill to create a notification system when those dropped from the no-fly list subsequently "go out and buy a bunch of assault weapons."

"The FBI ought to get a call, and they can revisit to see if things have changed," Thompson said.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, pointed to an assault rifle ban as the surest way to have prevented the Orlando tragedy.  

"These kinds of weapons have only one purpose, and that is to kill a lot of people quickly. That's exactly what happened in Orlando," Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol.

But with Republicans controlling Congress, Hoyer added, "We also know that that legislation is going nowhere."

Hoyer laid much on the blame on the voters who support tougher gun laws, then elect lawmakers who oppose them.

"If they think that they want this legislation," he said, "they ought to stop voting for people who oppose it, stop voting for people who refuse to put it on the floor [and] stop voting for people who have moments of silence and then inaction."