Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) says it’s time for legislative action ― not silence ― after Sunday’s mass shooting at a church in rural Texas.
Lieu on Monday walked out of a moment of silence in the House of Representatives chamber meant to memorialize the 26 people killed and 20 wounded in the gunman’s attack.
Lieu instead called on Congress to pass progressive gun safety measures that might prevent a future massacre.
“I’m heartbroken about the children and adults that were killed in the worst mass shooting in Texas history this Sunday,” Lieu said in a Facebook video posted to his account from Capitol Hill.
“My colleagues right now are doing a moment of silence,” Lieu continued. “I respect their right to do that and I myself have participated in many of them, but I can’t do this again. ... I will not be silent.”
Lieu said he had participated in “too many” moments of silence, noting that three of the worst mass shootings in modern U.S. history have occurred since he was elected to Congress less than three years ago.
On Sunday, Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, a former Air Force member court-martialed for domestic violence, opened fire on First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs with an assault-style rifle. The massacre was the fifth-deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Roughly a month earlier, a gunman shooting into a sea of Las Vegas concertgoers from a 32nd-floor hotel room killed 58 people, the worst mass shooting in modern history. He used semiautomatic rifles outfitted with devices called “bump stocks” to fire hundreds of rounds per minute.
Lieu on Monday urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would ban assault rifles and bump stocks, as well as mandate a universal background check system for gun purchases ― a measure supported by the majority of Americans.
“We need to pass gun safety legislation now,” Lieu said. “We cannot be silent. We need to act now.”
Most Republican lawmakers have continued to reject Democratic calls for tighter gun safety measures.
President Donald Trump claimed Monday that stronger background checks for firearm purchases could have led to “hundreds more” dead during Sunday’s mass shooting, because Kelley was shot and pursued by a rifle-toting bystander.
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story misstated the military branch in which Kelley served. He was in the Air Force, not the Marines.