FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- After again refusing to take part in a Congressional moment of silence marking the victims of the latest mass shooting to hit the country, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes told "The Daily Show" host Trevor Noah on Tuesday night that such moments make one "just want to set your hair on fire."
Himes, a Democrat who represents Connecticut's 4th District, boycotted a moment of silence in the House of Representatives on Monday, and had previously declined to take part in a moment of silence for the victims of last year's shooting in Orlando. He said in an appearance on "The Daily Show" and in an op-ed in the Washington Post that such moments are "empty" and that Congress must do more to address gun violence.
"Here you are, in the one space in America where 435 people can do an hour’s work, one hour, and you can pass stuff that 90 percent of Americans support," Himes told Noah on Tuesday, citing measures Congress can take like passing universal background checks.
"Instead you know what we do? We stop talking for 10 seconds. That’s what we offer to the people who have been traumatized by the events in Las Vegas, the events in Sandy Hook, the events in Orlando. It’s just the drum beat of that impotence and that silence. I tell you, it just makes my head explode.”
Himes said that moments of silence have their place, and that it is important to honor the victims of tragedies like the Las Vegas shooting. But he said that Congress taking a moment of silence or lowering the flag to half-staff is not enough.
“That’s negligence. That’s not honoring anybody. Honoring the victims means, we’re going to fix this.”
In their conversation, Noah pointed out that many mass shooters like Stephen Paddock, who committed the Las Vegas shooting, acquire their guns legally. He also said that the majority of gun deaths are suicides, and that many are committed with hand guns. Himes acknowledged these points, but said that implementing universal background checks and limiting the kinds of guns that people can buy would still reduce gun deaths in the United States. He also said that mental health care should be addressed.
"Two-thirds of the gun deaths in this country are suicides. That says there are a lot of distressed people out there that you ought to address, but you also ought to make it a little less easy for them to get the tool that will end their lives," Himes said.
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