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Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Thomas Massie have heated exchange in Capitol over gun violence

Bowman and Massie's gun control exchange
Reps. Bowman and Massie have heated exchange over gun control 01:32

Reps. Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat from New York, and Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, had an intense exchange in the hallways of the Capitol on gun control Wednesday evening, two days after the deadly shooting at a school in Tennessee. 

The confrontation started in a hallway outside the House chamber, where Bowman, a former educator and middle school principal from the Bronx, launched into a fiery tirade. "They're cowards, they're all cowards. They won't do anything to save the lives of our children at all," Bowman said, referring to Republican lawmakers.

"Cowards! Pressure them, force them to respond to the question, why the hell won't you do anything to save America's children? And let them explain that all the way up until Election Day on 2024," Bowman said to a group of reporters. "Let them explain it all the way up to Election Day on 2024. They're freaking cowards, they're gutless." 

Massie approached Bowman and asked what he was referring to, and Bowman said "gun violence." On Monday, three children and three adults were killed in a shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. Police said the shooter had three guns at the school, and had legally purchased seven guns in the past year. 

In 2022, Congress passed a bipartisan bill that enhanced background checks for gun buyers under 21 and added funding for mental health services and school security. The bill quickly signed by President Biden. Democrats have since pushed to renew a federal ban on assault weapons, which expired in 2015, but their efforts have been thwarted by Republicans, who have called for more school safety measures.

Massie told Bowman, "You know, there's never been a school shooting in a school that allows teachers to carry."

"Carry guns? You think — more guns lead to more death! More guns lead to more death," Bowman responded.

Massie started to ask Bowman if he would cosponsor his bill, but the New York Democrat interrupted.

"Look at the data," Bowman said. "You're not looking at any data. You're carrying the water for the gun lobby. Look at the data. More guns lead to more deaths. States that have open carry laws have more deaths. States that have open carry laws have more deaths."

Massie tried to repeat that there had never been a school shooting in a school where the teachers were armed, but Bowman asked if Massie was listening to what he was saying. Massie then told Bowman to calm down.

"Calm down? Children are dying!" Bowman said.

Massie said, "I know, I've got..." before Bowman interjected again.

"Nine year old children!" Bowman said. "The solution is not arming more teachers. Have you ever worked in a school? Have you ever worked in a school? Have you ever worked in a school? Have you ever worked in a school? That's a yes or no question. Have you ever worked in a school? You have not answered my question. Don't stop and talk to me." 

On Tuesday, first lady Jill Biden stopped by a candlelit vigil in Nashville to honor the victims of the shooting, the first representative from the White House to visit the city since the shooting.

"As you heard the president say throughout this week, we continue to call on Congress to act to pass an assault weapons ban, and take additional actions to make our kids and communities safer," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at Wednesday's press briefing.

Ellis Kim and Zak Hudak contributed to this report.

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