House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries blasted Republicans on Thursday for refusing to engage in gun safety discussions after six people were killed in a mass shooting at a school in Nashville, Tennessee.
The New York Democrat told reporters that GOP House leaders should allow debate on whether to restore a ban on assault-style weapons.
“Extreme MAGA Republicans should bring the bipartisan universal criminal background check legislation to the floor, and should also bring to the floor an assault weapons ban so we can have a debate out in [the] open, in front of the American people, as to whether weapons of war have any place in a civilized society,” Jeffries said.
“We’re confident in our position. Stop hiding your position,” he continued. “And let’s debate this issue of gun safety in front of the American people.”
Jeffries’ remarks come just days after three 9-year-old children and three staff members were shot to death at The Covenant School in Nashville. The shooter legally purchased seven firearms, including two assault rifles and a pistol used in the attack, according to police. Officers fatally shot the suspect at the school.
“Our classrooms have become killing fields,” Jeffries said. “Is that acceptable in America?”
Following the Monday massacre, gun control activists, concerned parents and teachers, and Democratic lawmakers swiftly called for gun safety legislation, including the assault weapons ban. But Republicans, many of whom receive money from the gun lobby, refuse to budge.
On Wednesday, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) got into a heated argument with Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) over the GOP’s opposition to gun safety, after imploring journalists on Capitol Hill to ask Republicans what their plan is to address the gun violence epidemic. Massie, who chairs the gun-loving Second Amendment Caucus, stepped in to propose that teachers should be armed at schools.
“Carry guns? More guns lead to more death,” Bowman repeatedly shouted before Massie told him to calm down.
“Calm down? Children are dying,” said the Democratic lawmaker, who spent decades as a teacher. “The solution is not arming teachers.”
On Thursday, Jeffries said he has not yet spoken to Bowman about the argument, but understands “passions are running high on the issue.”
“Our children are being slaughtered in the streets of America,” the House Democratic leader said. “No other country has this problem.”
The House passed a ban on assault weapons in July, when it was led by Democrats, but the bill was never introduced on the Senate floor. With Republicans now in control of the chamber, it’s unlikely that such a ban will get to President Joe Biden’s desk.
This is a syndicated version of an article originally published on HuffPost.