Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) on Tuesday expressed frustration with lawmakers observing a moment of silence in response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas, calling it a “grisly House ritual.”
The House held a brief moment of silence Monday evening for the victims of the massacre in Las Vegas the night before, which killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others.
Clark was among multiple House Democrats who have refused to participate in any more moments of silence on the floor to honor victims of gun violence out of frustration with the lack of a legislative response.
Clark lamented the number of moments of silence in recent years following a series of deadly shootings. She was among the Democrats who led a sit-in on the House floor last June to protest inaction after the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., which until Sunday night was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
“We’ve had our grisly House ritual of expressing our heartfelt grief, followed by a moment of silence. But the moments have extended into years. Families at home did not send us here for our thoughts and prayers. No one in this chamber was elected to tackle our country’s challenges with moments of silence,” Clark said in a House floor speech.
Clark and Reps. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) began boycotting moments of silence after the Orlando shooting last year and did so again on Monday.
“Last year after the shooting at the Pulse nightclub, I decided in desperation that I would not participate in any more moments of silence in this chamber. That prayers and sympathy are fine. But this room can fix this problem and this room and the people in it refuse to do so,” Himes said in a separate floor speech on Tuesday.
House Republicans had been trying to push a bill titled the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, which would broaden public access to federal lands for hunting and fishing.
It includes a provision authored by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) that would make it easier to buy gun silencers, which currently requires registration and a background check. Duncan’s proposal would require people buying gun silencers, also known as suppressors, to undergo a less extensive instant background check.
“The leadership of this House is so enamored with silence that one of the only policies that they will talk about is silencing guns,” Clark said.
Duncan told reporters outside the House chamber Monday night that the timing for the bill was unclear.
“We anticipated next week, but who knows now,” Duncan said.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday at a GOP leadership press conference that the legislation was not currently set for consideration. The House is set this week to consider a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and a 2018 budget to use as a legislative vehicle for tax reform.
“I don’t know when it’s going to be scheduled. We’re focused on passing our budget,” Ryan said.