House Democrats have power to stop mass shootings in America

House Democrats have power to stop mass shootings in America
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We’ve awakened to another gun shooting. Once again we watch, bleary-eyed, the television scenes: interviews in front of flashing police lights, crime-scene tape, tactical police vehicles, another war scene. Once again, it’s mourning in America.

The question is, will this week’s midterm matter on the issue of gun safety?

Two years ago, in June 2016, a shooting at an Orlando nightclub inspired powerless Democrats in the House minority not to their feet but their seats. Led by Reps. John LewisJohn LewisOvernight Energy: EPA official steps down after indictment on ethics charges | Sanders to hold town hall on climate | Zinke slams 'environmental radicals' for fires John Lewis joins Ocasio-Cortez on climate change push Pelosi, potential challenger Fudge hold 'candid' discussion MORE (D-Ga.), Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkHouse Democrats have power to stop mass shootings in America Hispanic Caucus rallying behind Luján in leadership bid Election Countdown: Violence casts cloud before midterms | Clinton opens door to 2020 | Trump calls Gillum a 'thief' | Dems worry about midterm message | Trump camp's midterm ad doesn't feature president MORE (D-Mass.) and Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyHouse Democrats have power to stop mass shootings in America Facebook to remove over 5K ad target options to curb discrimination Dems want GOP chairman to subpoena State Department over cyber docs MORE (D-Ill.), they staged a day-long sit-in on the House floor to protest Republicans’ refusal to hold a vote on gun-safety legislation. They chanted, live-streamed, tweeted and prayed in an unprecedented organized disruption of House proceedings.

Republicans responded. They protected the sanctity of the House with “tough on incivility” rules against future disruptions, including fines ranging from $500 to $2,500. However, they did nothing to protect the safety of our theaters, schools, synagogues, nightclubs or the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where 12 people were slaughtered overnight.

That’s on top of the 195 people who’ve been killed in mass shootings since the sit-in Back in 2016, House Democrats had to resort to civil disobedience. They had no power, no gavel, no leverage.

That will change in January. This midterm gives me hope — not just because Democrats will have a majority, but because many of the districts that expanded the majority have voters who support common-sense gun safety.

This midterm was a realignment of urban and suburban districts supporting Democrats. In moderate counties, a Representative who supports measures like strengthened background checks or Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) “No Fly, No Buy” legislation, which would make it harder for people who can’t board planes to buy military style assault weapons, simply reflects the common sense of his or her constituents.

The difference will be that Democrats in charge of the House will actually be able to pass that and other bills. Sure, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Senate banking panel showcases 2020 Dems | Koch groups urge Congress not to renew tax breaks | Dow down nearly 400 | Cuomo defends Amazon HQ2 deal GOP senator accuses fellow Republican of spreading ‘fake news’ about criminal justice reform bill The Hill's 12:30 Report - New White House threat to Acosta's press pass | Trump defends criticism of McRaven | Hamilton biographer to headline WHCA dinner MORE (R-Ky.) will likely squash the measures in the Senate. But he has a complication. It’s called 2020, when the battlefield tilts back to Democrats: 20 Republican seats and only 11 Democratic seats will be contested. That includes Senate Republicans in blue-trending states like Colorado, Maine, Iowa and North Carolina, where House Democrats picked up seats this week. If Senate Republicans block popular measures like strengthening background checks or better safeguards against cop-killing bullets, they’ll bolster themselves with the gun lobby — and lose support of general election voters.

It’d be nice if Senate Republicans would vote based on your safety instead of their political survival. But they won’t. They’ll continue to make political calculations (as all pols do). Now, however, the calculation is complicated by a unique constellation of circumstances — Democrats can send bills to the Senate, and blue- and purple-state Republicans will have a harder time opposing them.

House Democrats are in a position to do something. This is in their hands, because America’s voters put something else in their hands: a gavel.

Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelElection Countdown: Hyde-Smith's 'public hanging' joke shakes up Mississippi runoff | New lawsuits in Florida | Trump wants Florida election official fired | Mia Love sues to stop Utah vote count | Republican MacArthur loses NJ House race The most important runoff election is one you probably never heard of The Hill's Morning Report — Trump heads to Paris as attorney general controversy intensifies MORE’s latest novel is “Big Guns,” a satire of the gun industry. He represented New York in Congress for 16 years and served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.