House Speaker Paul D. Ryan told Americans to “defy predictions” and come together in the wake of the Dallas shooting that killed five police officers late Thursday.
“There will be a temptation to let our danger harden our divisions,” he said Friday. “Let’s not let that happen.”
Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said it has been a “hard month” for Americans.
A shooter who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State carried out the worst mass shooting in U.S. history in June, killing 49 at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and police in Dallas said the sniper who struck Thursday during a Black Lives Matter protest was angry about recent police-involved shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
“As the president rightfully said: Justice will be done,” Mr. Ryan said, later adding: “Every member of this body wants a world in which people feel safe regardless of the color of their skin, and that’s not how people are feeling these days.”
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, echoed the speaker in an address on Dallas from the chamber floor, saying it was clear that the perpetrators had “an agenda of evil.”
Even before Thursday’s violence, House Democrats used a floor sit-in to call for votes on bills that would expand background checks and ban people on the “no-fly” terror list from buying guns.
The speaker said their proposals flouted the Constitution, and that he didn’t want to reward their disruptive behavior, anyway.
Instead, he proposed a more limited measure that would grant the attorney general the power to halt gun sales for up to three days for anyone suspected of terrorist connections — part of a new anti-terrorism package that would also establish a unit in the Department of Homeland Security to address radical Islamic terrorism and revoke passports of known extremists.
Democrats rejected the measure as toothless and hard-line conservatives also balked, saying the gun portion went too far, while the terror aspect didn’t go far enough.
Mr. Ryan asked the body to rally together in a time of mourning, rather than retreating into their partisan corners.