Former Rep. Steve Israel says Republicans won't do anything to stop mass shootings because they're too scared of losing elections

Former Rep. Steve Israel says Republicans won't do anything to stop mass shootings because they're too scared of losing elections
Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) speaks during a press conference at the US Capitol August 11, 2016 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • At least 21 people including 19 kids were killed in the latest mass shooting at a Texas elementary.
  • Former Rep. Steve Israel says GOP lawmakers won't vote on tough gun control so they can be elected.

Former Democratic Rep. Steve Israel said Republicans won't vote on tougher gun control measures because they're too afraid of losing elections.

In an op-ed in The Hill, Israel recalled a conversation in the Capitol Hill elevators for lawmakers where there was "no press, no staff, no constituents," where a GOP representative said that while they wanted to vote in favor of gun control, they'd lose their election in swing districts if they did.

"In the elevator, a friend – a pleasant, reasonable, moderate Republican – complained that the votes were politically motivated — forcing members in swing districts to choose between their pro-gun bases and more moderate constituents," Israel wrote.

The former lawmaker's op-ed comes a day after a gunman fatally shot 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

He was referencing the aftermath of "a series of votes in an Appropriations Committee markup of funding for the Department of Justice," where amendments to gun control legislation were shot down along party lines.


Israel said the unnamed politician said he had "no choice but to vote against" the measures.

"In a heavily polarized House, where districts were increasingly ruby red versus bright blue, any vote for any gun safety would invite a primary opponent and ignite his likely defeat. No issue, he told me, motivated his base more intensely than guns. Moderates would forgive and forget that he voted against background checks; but his base would never forgive him for voting for them," Israel wrote.

Political figures have called for tighter gun control measures following Tuesday's mass shooting, a similar plea in the aftermath of several mass shootings in recent years. Some GOP lawmakers, however, have come out in support of the gun industry, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who said "we don't need more gun control. We need to return to God."

Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott also said he still plans to address the NRA on Friday in Houston, just three days following the elementary school shooting. A number of other Republican lawmakers are also expected to speak at the event.

Israel said in the aftermath of that elevator conversation he wrote a book that turned into a political parody of the power of the gun lobby called "Big Guns." The book he said was not only ciritical of lawmakers but of the general public, highlighting how quick people are to "forget" a shooting, as soon as new news breaks but will eventually have their hearts broken again with the next shooting.


"The cycle repeats: shock, greave, forget, shock, greave, forget," Israel wrote.

He added: "That congressman in the elevator had you all figured out. You forgive and forget too easily. And by doing so, you keep electing people who care more about surviving the next primary than they do about the survival of your kids in their classrooms."