House Democrats staged protests Monday evening in response to a moment of silence on the floor to remember the victims of the attack in a gay nightclub in Orlando, the worst mass shooting in American history.
After Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) led the House in the moment of silence in honor of the 49 people who died in the massacre on Sunday, the chamber erupted into shouting as Democrats expressed frustration over the lack of votes to restrict guns after repeated mass shootings.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 14, 2016
“Where’s the bill?” Democrats chanted.
“Show some respect!” other Democrats shouted.
Some lawmakers walked out of the House chamber before the moment of silence began in protest, including Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.). Earlier in the day, Himes declared he would not participate in any more moments of silence as a form of protest of the lack of legislative responses to mass shootings.
“The fact is that a moment of silence is an act of respect, and we supported that. But it is a not a license to do nothing,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters off the House floor afterward.
“Members have just had enough of having one minute, a moment of silence on the floor, and then take no action,” she said.
After the moment of silence ended, Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) tried to seek recognition, a request Ryan denied.
Clyburn told reporters that he wanted to speak about the upcoming anniversary — this Friday — of the shooting at a historically black church in his district a year ago in Charleston, S.C.
“I think that we have some appalling silence taking place in this body when we ought to be responding,” Clyburn said.
Pelosi chided Ryan for denying Clyburn recognition, calling his move “really disrespectful.”
Democratic leaders said they want votes on three specific bills: legislation to close the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which allowed the shooter in that case to buy a gun after three days even though a background check wasn’t completed; prevent people who are on the FBI’s no-fly list from buying guns; and prohibit anyone convicted of a hate crime from purchasing firearms.
It’s not the first time Democrats have staged protests in response to a moment of silence after a mass shooting, though it is the first in recent memory sanctioned by their leadership.
Last fall, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) shouted out “Now let’s do something!” after a moment of silence for the shooting at an Oregon community college.