In June, the House Democrats and their Senate colleagues staged a 26-hour sit-in protest demanding a vote on gun safety legislation, after the deadly mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, which killed and wounded 102 people. At the time, House Republicans showed no signs of budging.
House Speaker Paul Ryan was adamant the House wouldn’t vote on the “No Fly No Buy” bill and even had these harsh words for the Democrats during the protest:
We will not take this. We will not tolerate this.”
He also hinted at possible consequences for Democrats.
But Speaker Ryan signaled the standoff would end with a vote.
In a conference call with House Republicans, Ryan told his colleagues they would vote on a counter-terrorism package that would include a subsection that would prevent suspected terrorists from buying a firearm.
Roll Call reports according to a source who was on the call:
The House, when it returns next week from its July 4 recess, will also vote on a mental health bill, sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, Ryan told his House colleagues. […]
“[…] It’s unclear whether Ryan’s proposal would include the broad ‘no fly, no buy’ proposal Democrats have supported or a more limited version endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
“On the call, Ryan said it common sense that suspects on terror watch lists not be able to buy guns, but wanted to be sure that any provision protects due process.”
The mental health bill proposed by Rep. Murphy was originally opposed by Democrats after it was introduced in the aftermath of Sandy Hook. The Democrats felt it undermined the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and weakened patient privacy. But the intended purpose is to remove some barriers between caregivers and getting the mentally ill with violent tendencies treatment. The revised bill addresses those concerns.
But it still indicates Republicans think mental health is largely to blame for the country’s gun epidemic. Germany has mental health issues. Australia has mental health issues. Both countries have low gun homicide rates. While mental health is important to address, it’s not the whole picture.
The Republicans still have the numbers to oppose any and all common sense gun legislation, so it would be a symbolic vote for Democrats. If the measure passes with a bipartisan vote, it will signal that Republicans are worried about their chances for reelection in a competitive election year — 92 percent of Americans support stronger background checks. House Democrats have vowed to continue their protest once the House comes back from recess on July 5, leaving Speaker Ryan little choice but to call a vote.
While the legislation may not pass the House, the sit-in was an important exercise in showing Republicans that while they may have the majority in Congress, the majority of American people want them to stop playing politics and get something done. And if they drag their feet on this issue, they just might be tossed aside.
Featured Image via Getty Images/ Win McNamee