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Congressmen get in shouting match over gun control after Nashville shooting

“Calm down? Children are dying!” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) said to Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) in a tense exchange outside the House chamber March 29. (Video: Jamaal Bowman via Storyful)
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Days after three children and three adults were fatally shot at a small Christian school in Nashville, a heated discussion over gun control between Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) turned into a shouting match in a hallway outside the House chamber.

Bowman, a former middle school principal, was telling reporters that Republicans were “gutless” for not backing gun control laws after this week’s shooting.

Standing in the hallway, Bowman accused Republicans of being “cowards” and said voters should force them “to respond to the question” of how to “save America’s children” from shootings. “And let them explain that all the way up to Election Day in 2024,” he said.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who was walking by, then stopped to ask: “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about gun violence,” Bowman said.

Massie, who once tweeted a holiday photo of his family holding guns, then told Bowman, “You know, there’s never been a school shooting in a school that allows teachers to carry.”

“Carry guns? More guns lead to more death,” Bowman replied, raising his volume. “Look at the data; you’re not looking at any data.” Bowman then repeatedly told Massie that states that have open-carry laws have more deaths. When Massie told Bowman to calm down, the second-term congressman yelled, “Calm down? Children are dying!”

The Washington Post could not immediately verify the lawmakers’ claims.

The verbal brawl between Bowman and Massie comes amid national disagreement over how to reduce school shootings, as the nation mourns the deaths of 9-year-olds Hallie Scruggs, Evelyn Dieckhaus and William Kinney from the shooting at Nashville’s Covenant School. Katherine Koonce, Mike Hill and Cynthia Peak were the three adults who were killed.

In Congress, little urgency to address gun violence with legislation

U.S. lawmakers have suggested that a legislative fix for school shootings isn’t coming anytime soon.

Democrats have proposed a bill to boost research aimed at finding out the causes of gun violence, while Republicans have expressed reluctance to support more firearm restrictions. President Biden called on Congress on Tuesday to pass tighter regulations, including an assault weapons ban. “I have gone the full extent of my executive authority, on my own,” Biden said, adding: “I can’t do anything except plead with Congress to act.”

During a news conference Thursday, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said he had not spoken to Bowman and only seen brief clips about the exchange.

But I do understand that passions are running high on the issue,” Jeffries said. “Our children are being slaughtered in the streets of America."We need to do something about this problem,” Jeffries added.” And so passions may be running high here in the Congress. Passions are definitively running high throughout the United States of America."

John Wagner contributed to this report.

The Nashville school shooting

What we know: The Nashville shooter fired 152 rounds into the private Covenant School during a rampage that killed six people, which has unleashed a new wave of anti-trans rhetoric. Released Nashville police bodycam footage shows officers confronting the shooter, and 911 calls capture the horror of the shooting. Experts say the police response in the Nashville school shooting was the “exact opposite” of the the Uvalde massacre response.

The victims: Three 9-year-old children, who were students at the school, and three adult staff members — the head of the school, a substitute teacher and a custodian — were killed. Here’s everything we know about the victims.

Who is the Nashville shooter? Police identified the shooter as Audrey Elizabeth Hale, 28, of Nashville. Hale was transgender, according to the police chief. Before the shooting, Hale warned a friend of “something bad” in Instagram messages. A motive is currently unknown.