After Charleston Shooting, Washington Short on Answers
In the wake of the shooting Wednesday night at a South Carolina church that left nine people dead, many in Washington were calling for change that doesn’t appear to be coming quickly.
Legislators offered condolences throughout the day Thursday in statements and speeches. And some — mostly Democrats — reiterated as they have after past mass killings that it’s time for action on guns. “I don’t know how much longer we can thwart the views of the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters on Thursday, adding that the majority of Americans support a ban on allowing criminals and “crazy” people to buy guns.
President Barack Obama said sooner or later Washington would have to do something, and blamed politics for the lack of action. “At some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with [the fact that this type of violence is much more prominent here than in other advanced countries], and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively,” Obama said.
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., said in a statement that legislators “need to move from a place of political inertia to stop guns from getting into the hands of people who would use them for all the wrong reasons.”
But as of Thursday night, no one was pushing a plan and there was no related legislation on the calendar. And it does not appear that the two co-sponsors from the last major gun legislative effort, in 2013, would be taking the reins again.
Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 first graders and six adults dead, Sens. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., introduced legislation that would have expanded background checks for gun purchasers. But it fell to a filibuster.
On Thursday, Toomey said while he still supported the bill, there was no immediate plan to bring it back up.
“I continue to support the background check legislation that I introduced with [Manchin],” he said. “I felt then and I believe now that it’s the right thing to do.”
When asked if there were any plans to revisit the issue, Manchin’s office responded solely with a statement of condolences.
South Carolina’s Republican senators, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, condemned the violence as well, as did South Carolina Democratic Rep. James E. Clyburn.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, offered his condolences. So did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
But as of Thursday, there was no plan to do anything.
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