Democrat and Republican in Capitol shouting match over gun safety: ‘Calm down? Children are dying!’

·3 min read

Two opposing US congressmen drew crowds of onlookers as they engaged in a blazing argument over gun control in the wake of the Nashville school shooting.

New York Democrat Jamaal Bowman had been giving a furious speech to reporters in a corridor outside the House of Representatives on Wednesday evening, accusing the Republicans of inaction.

"They're cowards. They're all cowards! They won't do anything to save the lives of our children," yelled Mr Bowman, a former school principal.

Kentucky GOP representative Thomas Massie then tried to butt in, prompting a shouting match between the two men.

"You know, there's never been a school shooting in a school that allows teachers to carry [guns]," Mr Massie said.

"Carry guns?" Mr Bowman responded. "More guns lead to more death! Look at the data. You're not looking at the data. You're carrying water for the gun lobby. States that have open carry laws have more deaths... are you listening to what I'm saying?"

Mr Massie largely ignored his points, repeatedly asking if he would co-sponsor a bill to repeal the federal ban on carrying guns in schools, before telling him: "Calm down."

"Calm down? Children are dying!" exclaimed Mr Bowman. "Have you ever worked in a school? Have you every worked in a school?"

Three children and three staff members were killed when gunman Audrey Hale opened fire at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee on 27 March, marking the 17th school shooting in America this year.

Tennessee is one of 25 US states that allows people to carry concealed guns without a permit. Democrats and gun safety activists have argued passing stricter laws would reduce the violence, whereas Republicans and gun rights advocates argue that arming teachers would act as a deterrent.

Days after yet another massacre in December 2021, Mr Massie came under fire for posting a Christmas photo of his family posting with a huge trove of firearms, including semi-automatic rifles, submachine guns, and an M60 machine gun – a military weapon typically fired with the aid of a bipod, tripod, or vehicle mount.

As the confrontation in Congress escalated on Wednesday, Mr Massie broke off and turned to reporters, telling Mr Bowman: "I'm not talking to you anymore. You're just screaming... go over there and scream."

He claimed that arming teachers was equivalent to having armed guards in Congress, saying of Mr Bowman: "He doesn't believe that kids should have somebody to protect them."

Meanwhile, Mr Bowman jockeyed to get in between his opponent and reporters' cameras, saying: "I worked in a school for twenty years. I was a teacher, I was a school counselor, I was a middle school principal, I was in cafeterias, protecting kids every day of my career."

Afterwards, Mr Bowman tweeted: "Republicans won’t do S*** when it comes to gun violence, but try to tell me to calm down. NO. We can’t calm down. People are dying every day while we wait."