The Dalai Lama holds hands with Speaker Paul Ryan (left) and Congressman Joe Crowley (right) Actor Richard Gere, a close friend and confidante of the Tibetan religious leader, is in the background. Photo by Phi Nguyen, official House of Representatives photographer.
By Ray O’Hanlon
Two of Irish America’s leading political figures were at odds this week in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting tragedy.
But none less than the Dalai Lama got them to hold hands, sort of.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Congressman Joe Crowley get on well enough most days, but the sharp dividing lines between Ryan’s Republican Party and Crowley’s Democrats came into even sharper relief as gun availability and gun control once again came to the fore in the House of Representatives.
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Speaker Ryan had initiated a moment of silence on the House floor in tribute to the Orlando victims.
Democrats didn’t want silence, but rather loud support for stricter gun control.
There was uproar in the House amid Democratic calls for Republicans to embrace stricter gun laws, particularly with regard to assault rifles.
Rep. Crowley, Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, was not impressed by mere silence.
“These 49 victims join a long list of victims and families that are hurting because their Congress will stand for a moment of silence but do absolutely nothing — don’t even talk about it, don’t even bring it up,” Crowley said.
“They would rather these events just continue to happen, I guess. I don’t know what the answer is. They’re complicit in this by not acting and not taking a stance in some way.”
“Call a select committee on umpteen other things but not on gun violence in America. Nothing. Nada. Zip.”
“They stand there like deer in the headlights,” Crowley added.
Ryan and Crowley would be both pivotal figures if the House was to make any moves in the direction of stronger gun buying rules, particularly with regard to assault weapons ending up in the hands of real or potential terrorists.
So the moment of seeming accord with the Dalai Lama could well be a sign of a closer meeting of minds.