Wasserman Schultz, Deutch call for a vote on new gun control bill

Rep. Tim Deutch, Megan Hobson, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schutlz and former state Sen. Nan Rich support a new gun control bill in Congress.
Rep. Tim Deutch, Megan Hobson, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schutlz and former state Sen. Nan Rich support a new gun control bill in Congress. adaugherty@miamiherald.com

South Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Ted Deutch said on Tuesday that Republicans must allow a vote on a new gun control bill in the wake of June’s Orlando nightclub attack.

“Do your damn job,” Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) said of House Republicans. “We aren’t even asking that House Republicans vote for these bills, although they certainly should. We’re asking them to put the bill on the floor and vote yea or nay. If they support carnage, then they should stand up and face their constituents.”

Wasserman Schultz and Deutch are heading to Washington to support a bill that would expand background checks for private gun sales and place additional scrutiny before people on no-fly watch lists are allowed to purchase a firearm.

The proposed bill comes after an overnight sit-in by House Democrats last month and an attempt by Senate Democrats to expand background checks and prevent people on no-fly lists from purchasing firearms. The Senate bills, which received a vote after a lengthy filibuster, ultimately failed along party lines.

“When the moments of silence stop, it’s time to follow them with action,” Deutch (D-Boca Raton) said. “Too often, we have these moments of silence that are followed by more deafening silence and refusal to take any action.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan is allowing a vote on one gun control bill: a measure that would delay the sale of a gun to a suspected terrorist for three days. The bill, which has received support from the National Rifle Association, does not go far enough for Wasserman Schultz and Deutch.

“No doubt, they pleaded with the NRA for permission to bring something to the floor,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Wasserman Schultz says that Ryan and Republican leadership were shamed into bringing a bill up for a vote.

Critics of the no-fly lists say the lists are imperfect and that innocent people could be prevented from purchasing a gun, while actual threats like Orlando shooter Omar Mateen endure no additional scrutiny. Mateen was not on a watch list in the days before the Orlando shooting.

Both Wasserman Schultz and Deutch said the proposed bill does not prevent someone on the list from purchasing a firearm if a review deems the individual is not a threat.

Wednesday’s press conference at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport featured six speakers in addition to Wasserman Schultz and Deutch. They all advocated for more gun control in Congress and argued that the Florida Legislature has done nothing to prevent gun violence.

“No more hashtags, it’s time for action to be done,” said state Rep. Shevrin Jones (D-Hollywood). “Florida is moving in the wrong direction when we talk about gun violence.”

He referred to recent efforts to allow open carry and guns on college campuses as evidence that the gun lobby controls Tallahassee.

Megan Hobson, 21, a victim of a drive-by shooting in Hialeah, also spoke at the press conference in favor of more gun control. She was dropping off a friend when an AK-47 sprayed bullets into her car and shattered her pelvis.

“Why are there AK-47 rifles available?” Hobson said. “I think it’s very sickening that every day I have to hear about people going through what I’ve gone through.”

Although an assault-weapons ban is not part of the proposed legislation, both Wasserman Schultz and Deutch said they would support such a ban.