After Orlando massacre, lawmakers call for Congress to pass gun-sale limits
By Andy Reid
Congress should toughen restrictions on gun buying in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting, not just send condolences, three U.S. representatives from South Florida said Friday.
Forbidding gun sales to suspected terrorists who already aren't allowed on planes and requiring criminal background checks for people buying guns online and at trade shows are among the proposals sought by U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch and Patrick Murphy.
"Forty-nine lives were cut short," said Frankel, speaking to the media outside the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach, which is part of her district. "We have to take our sorrow and turn it into action."
After massing shootings from Connecticut to California, the Republican-controlled Congress so far hasn't been willing to pass new gun control measures.
Democrats in the Senate this week held a filibuster that could prompt a vote as early as next week on laws such as a proposed "No Fly, No Buy" gun rule and closing the background-check loophole for online gun sales and sales at gun shows.
On Friday, the three South Florida Democrats urged their Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives to take a vote on those measures as well.
Polls show Americans overwhelmingly support these types of laws and it's only the "extremist fringe" of Republicans in Congress standing in the way, said Deutch, of West Boca.
"If we take these two steps ... we will be showing the American people we will be taking a step that can help to save lives," Deutch said.
Gun advocates say that rules like these wouldn't necessarily have stopped the Orlando shooting or other mass shootings in recent years. They say adding more gun laws could make it harder for law-abiding citizens to buy guns.
The three lawmakers on Friday maintained that the proposed laws can be written so that they provide the intended safeguards without infringing on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
It doesn't make sense for the federal government to identify and investigate potential terrorists only to allow them to keep buying guns, said Murphy, who is running for Senate.
"This isn't an attack on the Second Amendment. This is common sense legislation," said Murphy, whose district includes northern Palm Beach County. "Closing (these) loopholes is a no-brainer."
Forty-nine people died after Omar Mateen opened fire early Sunday at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The shooting also injured 53 people, according to authorities. The massacre has prompted a new push for laws that supporters say could at least rein in gun violence plaguing the United States.
"We have these vigils. We have candle lightings. ... Now it's time for Congress to do (its) job," Frankel said.
Frankel and Deutch along with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Weston, were scheduled to speak Friday afternoon at the city of Fort Lauderdale's tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting.
The interfaith "United with Orlando" memorial service, at 1 p.m. at the Parker Playhouse, was expected to include remarks from local officials, religious leaders and representatives of local agencies and organizations.
The event includes a blood drive, musical performances and gives attendees the chance to sign a banner of support being sent to Orlando.