WASHINGTON — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill woke up to the news of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, and renewed questions about the congressional legislative agenda, which includes a controversial bill that would relax the sale of gun silencers.
Some lawmakers quickly called for action to limit access to firearms.
“This must stop. It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), whose state was the site of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its a— and do something.”
Fifty people were killed and more than 400 were injured on Sunday evening when a shooter opened fire from his 32nd floor hotel room down on a country music festival just off the Las Vegas strip. Police believe that the shooter, Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nev., killed himself before they entered his room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who returned to work just last week after suffering serious injury a gun attack on a congressional softball game in June, tweeted that he and his wife, Jennifer, “are praying for the victims of this unspeakable violence in Las Vegas.”
Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson as she was meeting with constituents, tweeted that she was “heartbroken by the scene our nation in waking up to this morning. No person should endure the horror Las Vegas experienced last night. In a just a matter of minutes, one man killed at least 50 people. Another 200 were injured. This is a grave tragedy for our nation.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan ordered that flags at the Capitol be put at half staff to honor the shooting victims.
“America woke up this morning to heartbreaking news,” Ryan said. “This evil tragedy horrifies us all. To the people of Las Vegas and to the families of the victims, we are with you during this time. The whole country stands united in our shock, in our condolences, and in our prayers.”
There were new questions about whether the House would vote soon on legislation that would make it easier to buy gun silencers. The author of the legislation, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), said that his Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act would help prevent hunters and other recreational users from suffering hearing loss. But critics, including some law enforcement groups, say that it would make it more difficult to identify the proximity of an assailant, including during scenes of mass shootings and terror.
The legislation already was delayed after the attack on the congressional softball practice, and even before the Las Vegas attack, Democrats have raised the prospect of a filibuster should it reach the Senate.