Family members of several people who were killed by gun violence in America — including the recent shooting at a South Carolina church — clutched photos of loved ones as they stood next to top Democrats as part of a call for stricter gun control measures on Wednesday.
Andre Duncan, who lost his aunt, Myra Thompson, in the Charleston shooting last month said he believes the tragedy "made Charleston much stronger than it ever was".
Thompson was killed June 17 along with eight other parishioners at Emanuel AME Church when a gunman opened fire during a bible study session.
Duncan added he "will not rest until our legislators do what is right by expanding Brady background checks."
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., fellow California Democrat Rep. Mike Thompson and South Carolina Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn joined the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in calling on Congress to pass tougher gun laws.
Rep. Clyburn — who said he only just returned to Washington D.C. last night following the Charleston shooting — had strong words as lawmakers in his home state debated the symbolism of the Confederate flag .
"It's an important symbol, it is a very strong symbol but the fact still remains that though this young man worshiped that symbol, hye carried out his dastardly act with a gun," Clyburn said.
Pelosi, who also commented on the killing of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco last week by a gun, said it was essential for Congress to take a vote on the Brady background check bill. The bill, H.R. 1217, would amend the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.t
“What we need is for this entire Congress to say 'we are Charleston' but we cannot allow people to say it unless it is accompanied with 'we are Charleston and we will give you a vote on a Brady background check bill’,” Pelosi said.
President Barack Obama has previously expressed frustration over the stymied status of federal gun control reform and called for stricter controls and congressional action after similar tragedies in such places as Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut.
"Every country has violent, hateful or mentally unstable people. What's different is not every country is awash with easily accessible guns," the president told a gathering last month at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco. "So I refuse to act as if this is the new normal or to pretend that it's simply sufficient to grieve, and that any mention of doing something to stop it is somehow politicizing the problem."
However, legislative action has fallen short.
Policy experts say that despite the president's pointed remarks about gun violence in the wake of the Charleston church shooting, it is unlikely that Washington will revisit the issue.
"I don't expect we will see new federal laws passed in the near future despite broad public support for gun safety laws," Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research told NBC.