A top Democratic lawmaker today said the Senate should not "go on with business as usual" after Monday's deadly shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington.
"God forbid we go on with business as usual and not understand what happened yesterday," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said on the Senate floor. "What happened yesterday brings into question some important values in America.
"If we value our right for ourselves and our families and our children to be safe, if we value this constitution, if we value the right of every American to enjoy their liberties with reasonable limitations, then we need to return to issues that are of importance."
As he expressed his condolences for the victims of the Navy Yard shooting, Durbin brought up the failed Manchin/Toomey background-check bill, which the Illinois senator argued would have prevented felons and the mentally ill from obtaining firearms.
"We can protect the right of law-abiding Americans to use guns in a responsible way for hunting and self-defense but we have to keep guns out of the hands of those who would misuse them, felons, the mentally unstable who can't be trusted to have a firearm," Durbin added. "But today we pause and reflect on the lives lost. I hope the lesson is learned."
Gun-control advocates, including friends and family of victims of the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn., had already planned to descend on Capitol Hill for a week of lobbying congressional offices, but lawmakers have not indicated whether there will be a renewed push for action on gun control legislation after Monday's shooting that left 13 people dead.
As they entered into session today, senators observed a moment of silence for the victims and survivors of the Navy Yard shooting
"There are no words that can possibly ease the pain of the rampage and certainly the deaths involving a dozen human beings who were killed yesterday at the Naval Yard," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor after the moment of silence. "I hope it's some small comfort that this city, this institution, the United States Senate, and the whole nation mourn alongside them."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "I'd like to extend condolences to the families and friends who lost their lives or were injured in this terrible, terrible shooting. Know that your country is with you in these most difficult moments."
Reid said Monday's shooting, coupled with the 12 th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks last week, serve as a "reminder that life is fragile and precious."
Senate Chaplain Barry Black offered a prayer at the start of today's Senate session in honor of those affected by the shooting.
"Eternal savior, who promised to never forsake us, be a shield for this land we love. As flags fly at half-staff in remembrance of the victims of yesterday's Washington Navy Yard shooting, teach us to use wisely all the time you give us. Show your mighty power during seasons of distress transforming negatives into positives and dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows," Black prayed.
"Today, guide our lawmakers inspiring them in their going out and coming in as you give them the wisdom to labor not simply for time, but for eternity. Lord bless us all with strength of will, steadiness of purpose, and power to persevere."