WASHINGTON – Americans are again calling on Congress to take action on gun control after another mass shooting left 17 people dead Wednesday at a Florida high school.
Reaction on Capitol Hill was similar to what it has been for other mass shooting events, with lawmakers from both parties offering their thoughts and prayers to the victims’ families.
The Colorado delegation responded with its thoughts and prayers. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, called for Congress to take action on guns.
Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, said his heart “breaks” for the victims and their families. In a press call Thursday, Gardner called for increased access to treatment on the mentally ill, but said nothing about guns.
“We also have to recognized that in the United States we have a very strong balance of security and civil liberties, and that’s got to be part of this discussion,” Gardner said. “First I think we need to recognize this: if there’s an individual who needs help and is showing signs of mental health, challenges, issues, illness, we’ve got to figure out a way in this country to get them the help that they need.”
Gardner has received $3.9 million in support from the National Rifle Association during his career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The total is the fifth highest among Republicans and includes both direct donations and spending on his behalf, according to the center.
Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) released no public statements about the shooting. Over his career, he has received over $103,000 in support from the NRA, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday morning, Bennet called on Congress to expand background checks on gun purchases. Support for expanding background checks on gun purchases reached 94 percent of Americans last year, according to a Quinnipiac University poll in June 2017. Congress has taken no action to address the issue.
Bennet has not received any money from the NRA, the Center for Responsive Politics report said; in fact, the NRA has spent $868,000 against his candidacies.
In Las Vegas last year, after a gunman carried out the worst mass shooting in American history using a “bump stock” to make his semi-automatic weapon function like an automatic weapon, Congress did not act – even though automatic weapons aren’t legal for Americans to purchase.
“I don’t know who we’re waiting for,” Bennet said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday morning. “Nobody is going to come here and do this work. We need to do this work.”
Andrew Eversden is an intern for The Durango Herald and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.