During a news conference on Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was asked whether House Republicans still plan to forge ahead with a bill to deregulate gun silencers on the same week as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
But instead of addressing the question head-on, Ryan quickly pivoted to touting the need for corporate tax cuts.
Pushed about the so-called Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act), Ryan said he’s not sure when that bill will be scheduled, but “right now, we’re focused on passing our budget.”
With a chuckle, Ryan told reporters, “by the way, we’re bringing up our budget this week — I don’t know if you knew that.”
“The reason we’re bringing our budget up this week is because we want to pass tax reform, because we think that’s one of the most important things we can do to improve people’s lives,” he added. “That is our present focus and the Sportsmen’s Bill is not scheduled.”
Earlier during the press conference, Ryan was pressed on whether he regrets passing legislation that President Trump signed making it easier for people with mental illness to buy guns. Ryan guffawed, ignored the question, and called upon another reporter who asked asked him a related question.
Ryan finally replied by framing Congress’ move to roll back restrictions on people with mental illness buying guns as about “protecting people’s rights.”
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 3, 2017
At another point, Ryan claimed that “mental health reform is a critical ingredient to making sure that we can try to prevent” mass shootings. But Ryan has consistently supported health care legislation that would gut Medicaid — the largest payer of mental health services in the country. He’s also supported removing the requirement that Medicaid cover mental health services.
Republican leadership has already delayed the SHARE Act once, following the shooting at a Congressional baseball team practice in June. On the Senate floor on Tuesday, Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made a case that “when two mass shootings force you delay a bill that would make those mass shootings harder to detect and stop, maybe it’s a sign you ought to let go of the bill once and for all.”
Alluding to the shooting in Las Vegas that killed at least 59 people and injured more than 500 others, Schumer said that “one of the few ways that police had to go after the shooter was to look for the sound, try to hear the sound of where the guns came from.”
“There’s a move actually in this Congress — it’s in the House right now, I’m sure it has support here on the other side of the aisle in the Senate — to make it easier for citizens to acquire silencers. Why?” Schumer said. “Thank God our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have pulled back on this bill.”
Schumer: "When 2 mass shootings force you to delay a bill" that would make those shootings harder to stop, it's a sign to drop the bill. pic.twitter.com/XkX4cZyItf
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 3, 2017
While Ryan prefers to talk about tax cuts, many other Republican members of Congress have responded to the Las Vegas shooting not by examining what lawmakers can do to prevent people from obtaining military-caliber firearms like the one used by the Las Vegas shooter, but with “thoughts and prayers.”