PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan refuses to schedule an up-or-down vote on “No Fly No Buy” for terrorists and universal background checks for gun purchases, another sit-in like that last week in the House is likely.
“If he refuses to make that commitment to us, then you stay tuned because we’re not going to let this go. We want some action, and we want a vote,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, a Democrat.
At a rally at the City-County Building, Doyle got encouragement from a number of citizens to continue the sit-in.
“To say thank you, we understand that this is not an easy fight, we understand that it is likely to not be a short fight, so if you find yourself back on the floor of the House, Congressman, we’d like to present you with this CeaseFire PA pillow,” said Shannon William, campaign coordinator of CeaseFire PA.
At issue, says Doyle, is whether the House will take action on two bills to stop terrorists on the No Fly List from buying guns and eliminating all the loopholes in the background check law.
“Across the country, calls for action after Orlando are louder than they’ve ever been. And in thousands of calls and messages to Congress, people like me and my kids have demanded that Congress take action to close the loopholes that allow terrorists and dangerous people and suspected terrorists to easily buy guns in our country,” said Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.
“Guns or bullets destroy lives, and many of us here can identify with that. I lost my baby son through gun violence,” recalled Rev. Glenn Grayson of the Wesley Center AME Zion Church.
Mayor Bill Peduto says inaction by Congress on gun deaths in the face of the gun lobby is inexcusable.
“In no other situation, nothing, no other situation in this country, do 30,000 people die every year of something we can identify and we simply say, there’s nothing we can do about it,” said the mayor.
But critics have called the sit-in a publicity stunt, and there’s no sign yet the Speaker will allow a vote.
“You know every time there’s a tragedy in America — and we saw one here recently in Wilkinsburg — we get a moment of silence on the House floor and then nothing happens,” says Doyle.
Doyle acknowledged the sit in was unusual but said inaction was no longer an option.
“There was a frustration mounting that every time we see these tragedies that we couldn’t get Speaker Ryan and the House Republican leadership to allow us to have a vote.”
But Kim Stolfer, the local leader of Firearms Owners Against Crime, a guns rights group, said the House should not vote on No Fly, No Buy.
“No, because it deals with three issues,” Stolfer told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
“One is due process violations of law. You can’t deny rights unless a person has been convicted in a court of law and has the ability to challenge it. Two, what they’re trying to do is create secret government lists and have control over a person exercising a right. And, three, nothing they did in Orlando or propose now would have stopped that killer from killing those people except a good person with a firearm.”
U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, a Republican, said he shared the concerns of gun rights groups.
“Terrorists should not be able to buy firearms clearly, and I hope we can all find a way to make that bill be written, but it’s not written yet. There is no bill to have an up or down vote on.”
But Doyle disagreed.
“Don’t let any of them tell you there is no bill. I heard that on television two days ago from a member of Congress. There are four bills pending right now. They’re in committee,” said Doyle.
Murphy says he wants a bill that addresses the due process rights of those improperly put on a terrorist watch list.
And he says a sit-in on the House floor is the wrong approach.
“I call upon my colleagues to work this out in a thoughtful, purposeful, moving-forward manner.”