WASHINGTON – Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica was killed in the Colorado movie theater shooting in July 2012, recounted Wednesday that it was not until the Connecticut school massacre five months later that she and her husband decided to advocate for stricter gun safety laws.
She and other families of shooting victims were scheduled to return to Washington this week, some arriving Monday just as news of another mass shooting spread, this one not far from the Capitol.
To those who predict that this tragedy, which claimed 12 more victims, will do little to advance gun legislation in Congress, Phillips delivered this message: “We will not give up. We will not go away.”
“There is no perfect policy that would prevent every tragic shooting. But make no mistake, we are here today to finish the job,” Phillips said at a news conference Wednesday.
Members of Congress who joined them made a similar case. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he worried shootings “are becoming the new normal.” He cited the plea of Dr. Janis Orlowski, head surgeon at a Washington trauma center that treated victims of Monday’s shootings, to put her hospital out of business. “The risk is that we accept the banality of this evil in our society,” he said.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) noted that the House of Representatives observed yet another moment of silence to honor gun victims. “We’re almost unworthy of that tradition, to think that moment of silence should make us feel better. When the fact is, we don’t need a moment of silence, we need a day of action,” she said.
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), who co-sponsored a House version of the Senate proposal to expand background checks for gun buyers, urged the Republican leadership to bring it to a vote, predicting it would pass.
“If you’ve got a better idea, damn it, show it to us!” he urged.
Gun safety legislation, though, appears unlikely to return to the congressional agenda soon. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday he would love to revive the background check proposal that failed in April, but saw no reason to since it still lacked 60 votes needed to pass.
Sen. Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.) said “something is broken in democracy” if a proposal like that, which has overwhelming support among the public, can’t even get a vote.
“What will change things here in Congress? Does it have to be 40 people dying in a massacre? Does it have to be 50? Does it have to be 60? How many people have to lose their lives before we realize we have an obligation to stop this?”
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