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After Santa Fe school shooting, Democratic lawmakers slam GOP for inaction on gun control

"It’s not too soon. It’s too late. For at least eight families," the Democratic congressman from Parkland, Florida, tweeted.
by Jane C. Timm /  / Updated 
Image: President Trump Speaks At White House  Prison Reform Summit
President Donald Trump speaks during a prison reform summit in the East Room at the White House, on Friday in Washington.Mark Wilson / Getty Images

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Democrats slammed President Donald Trump and his party on Friday after the latest deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, condemning congressional inaction on gun control in the three months since the massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Rep. Ted Deutch, the Democrat who represents Parkland, criticized House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., for failing to bring up legislation on universal background checks after the school shooting in his district.

"It’s not too soon. It’s too late. For at least eight families. For thousands more student-survivors at Santa Fe High School," Deutch tweeted.

He was seen by a reporter hugging Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, who represents Santa Fe.

Lawmakers from states devastated by school shootings — like the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 27 dead — were among the most outspoken in saying that Congress has not done enough.

"Let’s call it like it is: The horrifying inaction of Congress, slaughter after slaughter, has become a green light to would-be shooters, who pervert silence into endorsement," said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

However, Ryan referred to "recently passed" reforms in a statement expressing his grief.

"It is urgent that we implement the reforms Congress recently passed to make schools safer and keep deadly weapons away from those who should not have them," Ryan said.

He did not offer specifics, though the Fix NICS Act, a limited background check bill that seeks to improve enforcement of the existing system by prodding various agencies to keep their records updated, was rolled into the omnibus government spending bill that was signed into law in March.

"This is a time to come together in support of the Santa Fe community," Ryan said.

Many Democrats who spoke out noted the historic protests students have lead in recent months calling for gun control — and lamented the now-familiar cycle of the country reacting to mass shootings.

"Millions of young people are raising their voices and bravely, eloquently insisting on action to end the gun violence epidemic. Congress must show as much courage as they have," House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.

"Only in America are school shootings normal. Only in America will we do nothing when an epidemic of gun violence is killing children. This has to stop," tweeted Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

"I will not stand for this and neither should you," wrote former Rep. Gabby Giffords, a victim of gun violence and staunch advocate for gun control.

"Enough is enough is enough," said former Vice President Joe Biden in a tweet.

"Students across America have come together to push for a better future & Congress has failed them," Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., wrote in a tweet, while Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore, called for "common-sense steps NOW."

Trump expressed his heartbreak and vowed to take action, as he did after the Parkland shooting.

“This has been going on too long in our country — too many years, too many decades now. We grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our love and support to everyone affected by this absolutely horrific attack,” Trump said in brief remarks at the White House. "We're with you in this tragic hour, and we will be with you forever."

The president said his administration would do “everything in our power” to protect students and keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also called for action, while stressing the need to protect the Second Amendment.

"We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families. It's time in Texas that we take action. To step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again in the history of the state of Texas," Abbott, a Republican, said.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union, paused for a moment during a panel she was participating in at a Democratic women’s event in Washington to announce the news she had just received about the shooting.

"Thoughts and prayers are not enough," she said, adding that dealing with shootings has become too-frequent part her members' duties.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, meanwhile, highlighted the federal commission on school safety that Trump convened in the wake of Parkland.

“Our work remains urgent,” DeVos, who chairs the commission, said in statement. “Our nation must come together and address the underlying issues that lead to such tragic and senseless loss of life.”

A day earlier, DeVos held a meeting with researchers and survivors and family members of victims of past mass shootings.

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