WARWICK, R.I. — Rhode Island officials expressed shock and anger and called for stronger gun control laws Monday after more than 50 people were killed in a shooting at an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas.
Democratic U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin expressed their condolences and called on Congress to act. The Rhode Island delegation attended an event Monday morning in Warwick, Rhode Island, to announce the completion of a runway expansion.
Cicilline said every time there is a mass shooting, there’s a moment of silence in Congress and everyone moves on.
“There are a number of really good proposals that can help reduce gun violence and keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them,” he said. “So far, Congress has not had the courage to actually enact that. I’m always hopeful that people will be persuaded that they can’t any longer ignore this, but so far it hasn’t happened.”
Authorities say the gunman, identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year-old retiree from Mesquite, Nevada, had as many as 10 guns with him, including rifles.
Reed said access to military-style automatic weapons shouldn’t be as easy as it is today, and more thorough background checks are needed. Reed said there is a right to bear arms, but “being able to assemble an arsenal of automatic weapons is not something, I think, our founding fathers envisioned.”
Whitehouse said he’s frustrated because any proposed restrictions will face a “brick wall of political opposition.” Langevin also spoke of the need to conduct better background checks and close a loophole for purchases at gun shows.
Gov. Gina Raimondo said she’s grief-stricken and angry. The Democratic governor said Rhode Island should ban assault weapons.
“These are military-style weapons. They belong in the military,” Raimondo said. “They don’t belong on the streets of Rhode Island. They don’t belong on the streets of Nevada. And we have to renew our commitment to stopping gun violence in America.”
Democratic state Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said the chamber has considered legislation on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines before, but it didn’t move forward. He said he would not take a position on any new bills until he sees the wording.
Raimondo ordered U.S. and Rhode Island flags at state facilities be flown at half-staff until Friday to honor the victims. More than 500 people were injured.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the day after the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history is not the time to renew a debate over gun control. Republican President Donald Trump has cast himself as a friend to firearms owners and the powerful National Rifle Association lobby.