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The gun control fight picked back up in the House of Representatives on Tuesday after Democrats staged a dramatic sit-in demanding action on the issue that lasted more than 24 hours on the chamber floor late last month following the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla.
Speaker Paul Ryan said last week that the House will vote on a larger anti-terrorism package that includes legislation aimed at preventing suspected terrorists from getting their hands on firearms. But the proposal is unlikely to satisfy Democrats who want stricter measures, like expanded background checks, to be put into place.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called the proposal Paul will bring to floor -- which is based on previous legislation written by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas -- “toothless.” It’s likely to go nowhere as a similar measure has already been knocked down in the Senate. Under the proposed GOP legislation, the government can ban gun sales to suspected terrorists but only if they can prove within 72 hours that the person on the watch or no-fly list has links to terrorism -- a provision Democrats say is impossible.
What’s yet to be seen is whether Democrats will take similar protesting action as dozen of lawmakers did last month during the day-long sit-in, in an effort to bring attention and greater gun control legislation to the floor. It came in the aftermath of the shooting spree, which resulted in 49 people dead and more than 50 injured in a gay nightclub in Orlando on June 12.
Several House members delivered short speeches on gun control on Tuesday. A Democratic aide told NBC News that Reps.
John Larson of Connecticut and John Lewis of Georgia met privately with Ryan Tuesday evening and were expected to ask him for votes on two proposals Democrats have been advocating for. They include expanding background checks and banning gun sales to those on terrorism no-fly lists.
"We're asking for a simple vote. After all, that's what we were elected to do," Larson said on the House floor Tuesday afternoon. "... Our caucus will not be silent anymore. We feel silence means you're complicit with these ongoing tragedies."
After the meeting, Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said, "This evening Speaker Ryan met with Reps. Larson and Lewis at their request. While they have different views on how to achieve a shared goal of preventing gun deaths in America — particularly on matters of due process — the speaker was glad they were able to have the discussion. The path ahead on the anti-terrorism package will be discussed and determined by the majority in the coming days."
Other Republicans, meanwhile, painted Democrats as ignoring House rules and illegally occupying the chamber's floor during the sit in. They "replaced rule of law with the rules of the mob," said GOP Rep. Tom McClintock of California on Tuesday. He argued the Democrats' proposed legislation on guns will hurt law-abiding citizens in the U.S.
Ryan said last week during an interview with local television station WISN that he “will not tolerate” another sit-in by congressional Democrats. He did not go into detail on how the GOP would stop such tactics, but said it would be handled differently if it happened again.