Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., holds up a photo of a victim of gun violence. (Screenshot via Twitter)

Americans across the nation have been stunned by incidences of gun violence in the past month, from the deadly massacre in an Orlando, Fla., nightclub to Thursday night’s shooting in Dallas, Texas, that left five police officers dead. As the nation struggles to comprehend these events, members of the U.S. House of Representatives continue to squabble over gun control legislation.

Last month, Democrats in the House made headlines for holding a 26-hour sit-in, a move that many Republican lawmakers saw as a display of political theater. Now, House GOP members want to punish those involved in the sit-in, perhaps in an effort to stall attention on their own legislative setbacks.

Karoun Demirjian of The Washington Post reports:

“Every option is on the table,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters Thursday with regard to punishing Democratic protesters he accused of trying to turn the House floor into a “partisan war zone.”

Republican leaders are having trouble finding enough votes for their own gun and counterterrorism measure due to opposition from the House Freedom Caucus, a group of roughly 40 conservative lawmakers.

Meanwhile, House Democrats continue to express their frustration with the lack of legislative action. On Thursday afternoon, various Democratic members took turns on the House floor “showing photos of victims’ of gun violence and asking that the House bring up bills to expand background checks and ban gun sales to suspected terrorists.” Once one request was rejected, a different Democratic member would rise and echo the request. This action continued for two hours.

What is the difference in the legislative packages? Kira Lerner at Think Progress explains:

The Democrats are demanding a vote on HR 1217, which would expand background checks on gun sales to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows and over the internet.

The vote that was scheduled for this week but that Republicans delayed was on a separate package, the Homeland Safety and Security Act, which would notify the attorney general when a person who has been investigated for terrorism in the last five years tries to buy a firearm. But it would have also meant instructing the government to set up a department to focus on the “ideology” of “radical Islamist terrorism.”

That legislation, backed by the National Rifle Association, was opposed by Democrats because it did not go far enough to expand gun safety. Hard-line GOP conservatives also came out against the bill because of concerns about due process rights.

Although House leaders are desperate to pass legislation, a senior House GOP aide remarked that they “aren’t trying to rush anything,” and any action before the July 15 recess seems unlikely.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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