On Wednesday, the nation's worst massacre since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 took place in San Bernardino, California. Two suspects, identified as married couple Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were slain by authorities after allegedly carrying out a devastating attack at an Inland Regional Center that left 14 people dead, and 21 more injured. And on Friday, one California Democrat sent a very strong statement: Rep. Jackie Speier won't stand for moments of silence after mass shootings anymore, literally, arguing that it's insulting to make ineffective shows of support amid Congress' inaction on gun violence.
As The Los Angeles Times detailed on Friday, Speier says that the next time her colleagues in the House silently rise from their seats to honor the victims of some grisly mass shooting — whether it's the San Bernardino one, or whichever one comes next — she won't be joining in. Rather, she says she'll either stay in her seat, or depart from the House chamber altogether. And that's not because she's anti-victim — to the contrary, it's because the memorializing feels cheap to her, absent legislative action to prevent such shootings.
I’m not going to stand up for a moment of silence again and then watch us do nothing. It’s hypocritical and it speaks to our impotence that we think that it’s good enough to just take out one minute and pray for the lives. The families of those who have died don’t want our one minute of silence. They want some assurance that this kind of conduct is not going to be sanctioned in this country moving forward. I’ve had it. I have had it with inaction. I’ve had it with the sense that it’s OK that we not act.
Speier is the representative for California's 14th Congressional district, and she's no stranger to gun violence. In fact, she has a harrowing personal history — Speier was a Congressional aide to Rep. Leo Ryan in the late 1970s, when he traveled to the remote Jonestown commune in the South American country of Guyana, to investigate human rights abuses by the cult and its leader, Jim Jones. Ryan would never make it back to the United States, slain by gunmen during a mass murder/suicide ritual that would make Jonestown permanently infamous. Speier was with Ryan on that trip, and thankfully she survived, but she was shot five times.
She's also been an active proponent of some gun safety reforms throughout her time in Congress. In particular, she's supported closing the so-called gun show loophole, which allows individual buyers and sellers to deal arms without performing or undergoing background checks, and she co-sponsored the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act. The latter would have banned the transfer or possession of expanded-capacity magazines like the one used in the shooting of former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011.