Dem says Ryan ‘has lost his guts’ on guns

Haiyun Jiang

Democrats are ripping House Republicans for not taking up gun control, with one member accusing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) of being too scared to take on the National Rifle Association (NRA).

“Paul Ryan has lost his guts,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said Tuesday. “Come on, who are we kidding here?”

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) piled on moments later, criticizing Ryan and GOP leaders for not confronting two of the most prominent issues facing Congress this month: guns and immigration.

Hoyer, the Democratic whip, noted that voters of all stripes support universal background checks — an idea endorsed by 97 percent of respondents to a recent Quinnipiac University poll — and suggested the Republicans are being wagged by the tail of the NRA.


“Ninety-seven percent of the people want to see the gun checks comprehensive and you can’t get a gun until your check is complete. Overwhelming, and this Republican leadership will not put it on the floor so that the people’s House can consider it. It’s shameful,” Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol. 

“We are one of the most violent — if not the most violent — society of the industrialized nations in the world, and we need to come to grips with that,” he added. “The American public overwhelmingly support doing that, but the NRA is very strong and apparently the Republicans don’t want to take them on.”

The House late last year did approve a bipartisan bill to beef up the FBI background checks preceding certain gun sales in response to a deadly mass shooting at a Baptist church in Texas. The bill, however, was paired with language expanding concealed carry rights nationwide — a nonstarter for Democrats. As a result the bill has gone nowhere in the Senate. 

“The House has acted and leaders now believe it’s the Senate’s turn to act,” a senior GOP aide said Tuesday in response to the Democrats’ accusations.

Republicans on Tuesday focused their comments on missteps by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies that might have contributed to the deaths of 17 people at a Florida high school earlier this month.

“We need to get to the bottom of how these breakdowns occurred,” Ryan said Tuesday during a press briefing. “We are going to be looking at the system failures.”

Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), the Republican whip who was shot last summer in Virginia during a mass shooting targeting the Republican baseball team, accused the FBI on Monday of “completely dropping the ball” in handling warnings about the alleged Florida shooter. 

“They had this kid handed to them on a silver platter,” Scalise said in an interview on the “Fox and Friends” program. “Let’s figure out what went wrong with government before people start talking about taking away rights from law-abiding citizens.”

Democrats, behind House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), contend the Republicans’ refusal to consider any new gun restrictions — even on the committee level — makes Congress complicit in the gun violence epidemic that’s racked the country in recent years. 

The victims, Pelosi said just after the Parkland shooting, “are paying the price for our inaction.”

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), who represents Parkland, said Tuesday that there are any number of gun proposals that enjoy bipartisan support and would pass easily on the floor, if only Republican leaders would put them there. In that category, he listed proposals to expand background checks, ban bump stocks, raise the minimum age to buy a gun and provide new grants to schools to help administrators identify potential threats.

“Let’s do the things where we all can come together now. That’s what these students want, they want to see action. They’re tired of people telling them that this is hard. What’s hard for them is what they’re dealing with, which is the loss of 17 members of their family,” Deutch said Tuesday, after the Democrats met with a handful of Parkland survivors during their weekly caucus meeting.

“There’s no logjam around here,” he added. “The only logjam is that the Speaker won’t bring them to the floor for a vote.”

Tags Bill Pascrell Gun control Gun rights Nancy Pelosi Paul Ryan Steny Hoyer Steve Scalise Ted Deutch

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