As the flags over the U.S. Capitol continue to fly at half-staff today in honor of the victims of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado last week, one Democratic congressman says there is a renewed opportunity "to deal with an epidemic of gun violence" in the United States.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, spoke out on the House floor Monday afternoon to push for stronger gun control, blaming the National Rifle Association for poisoning the political dialogue around the controversial issue and "creating phony threats to gun ownership."
"What is as appalling as the loss of life, is the fact that we not only refuse to do anything about it, but we allow political bullies to intimidate us from even researching the facts," Blumenauer blasted. "Anytime there is a mass-killing spree, I hope against hope, for a more enlightened reaction."
Blumenauer targeted the NRA for making it "impossible" to close the so-called gun show loophole, where he said people can purchase "unlimited amounts of guns without a reasonable background check." He also criticized the gun lobby for helping people on the no-fly list purchase guns while also preventing national security data from being shared between two government agencies.
"The NRA argues that all we need is for existing gun laws to be enforced while they systematically set about to dismantle which laws we have," he said. "I continue to feel that there's no reason to permit armor-piercing, cop-killer bullets to be sold like Tic-tac's, that automatic weapons should be available over the counter with 100-bullet magazines like killer in Colorado had, that facilitate such sprees."
James Holmes, 24, made his first court appearance Monday and is suspected of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others during a shooting rampage on opening night of the new Batman movie, 'The Dark Knight Rises.'
Back in Washington, the nine-term Democrat called on gun owners to "join with politicians, business, [and] the health community to come together to deal with an epidemic of gun violence in a way we would treat any other threat to the safety of our families and our communities."
"We would study, we would work on solutions together, and we would act," he imagined. "Sadly, we're still waiting."