WASHINGTON – A Democratic congressman frustrated with inaction on gun control said Monday he's done with the moments of silence typically held on the House floor after mass shootings, calling them "obnoxious expressions of smug incompetence."
Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes says he will leave the House floor when the chamber pauses to honor 49 people killed at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning. Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has scheduled the observance for Monday evening.
Himes and other Democrats have complained about the moments of silence as Republicans and some Democrats have remained opposed to additional gun controls. The Democrat's Connecticut district is close to Newtown, where a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults at an elementary school in 2012.
In a series of tweets Sunday, Himes said the silence doesn't honor victims, but mocks them. He called the observances an "abomination" and said he will not be silent.
In an interview Monday, he said the moments are "obnoxious expressions of smug incompetence" and the perfect metaphor for inaction on guns in Congress. He said he plans to talk to Democratic colleagues about leaving the floor and honoring the victims in another way at the same time.
Himes said the point is not to be disruptive, but "to make the obvious moral point that silence in the face of death is not acceptable."
He's not the first Democrat to complain about the ritual. When a moment was held to honor victims of a deadly shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, in December, several Democrats criticized it.
"We need to stand up, speak up, and take actions rather than another moment of silence," said Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., in a House floor speech at the time. "It is deafening, and it is killing us."