WASHINGTON – Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) defended the House Democrats’ sit-in over gun control after a frustrated constituent told her the Democrats “acted like spoiled brats.”
The constituent, who was introduced as Dino from Laytonsville, Md., said in 5 years a group of Republicans could decide they “don’t like the paint color of the houses” in Gaithersburg, Md., and “take over control of the House of Representatives” until they paint those houses a different color.
“There has to be decorum,” he told Edwards during a recent conference call with constituents. “The Democrats acted like spoiled brats because they couldn’t get their way.”
“What I will say to this, because I’ve presided over the House when we were in the majority, when Democrats were in the majority — I had the privilege of being able to preside over the House with speaker protests many times and I have a great respect for the decorum of the House,” Edwards told him.
“What I will say to you is it’s been very disturbing to so many of us that after we lost so many lives over and over and over again we stand on the House floor, we do a moment of silence and then we go back to business as usual and people keep losing their lives, and I think many of us have become completely fed up,” she added.
Edwards continued, “I know there have been many times, for example, after 49 people were lost in Orlando and after 26 6- and 7-year-olds and their teachers are lost in Newtown and after 12 are lost at the Navy Yard and after more are lost in Blacksburg and 9 in Charleston, S.C., and it goes over and over again and I think many of us have become too tired of these moments of silence. So, I don’t think we would do that during regular course of business, but these killings are not regular course of business and it cannot continue to be business as usual.”
Edwards recalled when Republican members “staged a demonstration in the House” over oil drilling.
“I remember years ago when some Republican members put paper bags over their heads in the House of Representatives over some other issue,” she said. “This loss of life, 33,000 lives every year, 89 lives, some of them in mass shootings, many of them one at a time on the streets of Baltimore, Chicago and every town across the country, and so I don’t think this is a usual course of action. It was highly unprecedented. I think it was necessary for us to do something effective about gun violence,” she said.
Edwards was referring to former Rep. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) putting a paper bag over his head to protest the House banking scandal in 1991.
Another constituent, Lawrence, recommended that Democrats propose one gun law change at a time in separate bills
“What you are asking for has about the same chance as unicorns appearing,” he told Edwards.
“This debate is very charged. It’s very hyper-partisan and so I suggest doing what the American people want. Over 90 percent of the American public wants to have a prohibition of people who are on the terrorist watch list, which already exists and keeps dangerous people from getting onto planes,” Edwards told him.
“The terror watch list was developed and has been enhanced as a result of what we learned coming out of 9/11, and keeping those people who are on that terror watch list from being able to get on a plane — we should also keep them from getting guns,” she added.
Edwards suggested Congress implement 100 percent background checks on all gun purchases nationally. She called that proposal a “simple approach” Congress could take to help prevent mass shootings.
“Our proposition is simple: No fly, no buy and 100 percent background checks,” she said. “As Republicans and Democrats, if we can come together on that then we can at least open the door on other things to possibly work on together, but let’s just try these two things — very, very simple common-sense solutions first.”
Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen had passed background checks to purchase his guns. He was interviewed twice by the FBI for possible terrorist connections but was ultimately cleared. Before carrying out the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, he was employed by a federal contractor as an armed security guard.
“What I mean by that is people who walk into a gun store and who are already prohibited from buying weapons would be prohibited from buying those weapons in that retail establishment at a licensed gun dealer,” Edwards said. “The problem is that same person could go online or go into a gun show with unlicensed dealers and purchase a weapon, and so our very simple approach to this legislation is to do what an overwhelming majority, something like over 95 percent of Americans want to do.”
Many callers wanted to know if Edwards knew why Republicans oppose gun-control measures and what could be done to gain their support for changes to the nation’s gun laws.
“It really is about breaking the stranglehold of the National Rifle Association on elected officials and it’s time to break that apart. For too long the National Rifle Association has been working, I think, on behalf of the gun industry and not gun owners. You know, I grew up with people who hunted and were gamesmen and sports shooters,” she said. “These are things that are about common-sense and about public safety and won’t impede at all on Second Amendment or constitutional rights.”