Ted Lieu wasn’t going to sit through another moment of silence, he said.
So Lieu, a Democratic congressman, didn’t join his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives for a moment of silence Monday night for the victims of the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left 26 churchgoers dead and at least 20 more injured.
His walkout was intended to send a message that the time for action — and, more specifically, stricter gun laws — is now, he said.
“I’m heartbroken about the children and adults that were killed in the worst mass shooting in Texas history this Sunday,” he said in a live video posted to Facebook. “My colleagues right now are doing a moment of silence in the House of Representatives chambers. I respect their right to do that, and I myself have participated in many of them.
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“But I can’t do this again. I've been to too many moments of silences. In just my short career in Congress, three of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history have occurred.”
The changes Lieu suggested in his Facebook live video include: universal background checks for those buying guns and bans on assault rifles and bump stocks.
“We cannot be silent,” Lieu concluded in his video. “We need to act now.”
Authorities said they found 12 bump stocks, devices that enable semi-automatics to fire even more rapidly, in the hotel room of Stephen Paddock, who directed a hail of gunfire at concertgoers in Las Vegas, CNN reported.
AR-15 style rifles have been used in many recent mass shootings, including at a country music concert next to the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, (58 dead, hundreds more injured), Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, (27 dead, many of them young children) and Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, (49 dead, 50 injured), according to USA Today. All three deadly incidents have occurred in the last five years.
And now, there’s been a shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 26-year-old Devin Kelley is accused of barging into the First Baptist Church, killing and wounding dozens of people in their house of worship.
He used an AR-15 style Ruger rifle, USA Today reported.
Stephen Willeford, 55, said he armed himself with a rifle from his weapon safe and rushed to First Baptist Church after his daughter said she heard gunfire there, the Associated Press reported. There he confronted Kelley, exchanging gunfire with him until Kelley drove away in his car.
Willeford told the AP he then hopped in the pickup truck of a stranger, who turned out to be 27-year-old Johnnie Langendorff, and they chased Kelley’s car until he crashed into a roadsign.
There was no movement in Kelley’s car after that, and police say that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Kelley, a former member of the U.S. Air Force, was court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his stepson and wife.
Kelley was able to purchase the rifle he used in the Texas mass shooting because the Air Force didn’t enter details of his court-martial into a federal database, according to The New York Times.