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See all coverage of the Las Vegas shooting here.


In the wake of one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, the North Coast’s two congressmen on Monday urged Americans to help change the nation’s gun laws.

Reps. Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman also castigated groups they blame for blocking stricter background checks and other efforts at what Huffman called “commonsense gun control.” Those opponents include the National Rifle Association, the firearms industry and members of the GOP-controlled House and Senate who oppose gun control.

Huffman, D-San Rafael, on Monday morning tweeted, “Massive tragedy in Vegas with high power weaponry. More blood on hands of heartless NRA and soulless gun industry. When will it be enough?”

Meanwhile, Thompson, D-St. Helena, expressed frustration at Republicans for promoting legislation in the House of Representatives to legalize firearm silencers, a move critics say could make it more difficult for police to pinpoint a mass shooter’s location. Thompson suggested the proponents of legalization were on a “fool’s errand to be the water boys of the Beltway NRA.”

“They are absolutely on the wrong side of this issue,” said Thompson, a gun owner and chairman of the House’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

The two congressmen reacted with sadness and horror to the news of Sunday night’s killing of at least 59 people and the wounding of more than 500 in Las Vegas.

But even as they called for action, the two expressed frustration at how many mass shootings have occurred in recent years. In a press release, Thompson listed five widely covered tragedies, from the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut to last June’s attack at a Republican Congressional baseball practice that left the shooter dead and Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise and four other people wounded.

“Responsible gun owners need to really speak up,” said Thompson. He urged them to support stricter background checks for prospective gun owners and for the establishment of a select bipartisan House committee to study and report on ways to reduce gun violence.

Huffman said lobbying for gun control will help, “but it’s also time to replace some members of Congress.”

He doubts that elected opponents of gun control will have their minds changed by the latest mass shooting because “there is no scale of tragedy that could overcome the stranglehold of the gun industry and the NRA over the Republicans in Congress,” he said.

Instead, change at the voting booth could lead to the election of “some sensible Republicans,” Huffman said, “and I would welcome the chance to work with them on this issue.”

Along with the two congressmen, Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein called Monday for Americans to “think deeply about the circumstances of this shooting and work together to prevent such tragedies from happening again.”

“It should shock every American that one individual, with easy access to weapons and ammunition, can inflict such devastation,” Feinstein said in a statement.

Thompson said he was unsure whether the latest mass shooting would derail the GOP effort to legalize silencers.

“Who’d have thought they’d bring it up in the first place,” he said of the provision contained in a bill known as the “Sportsmen’s Heritage And Recreational Enhancement Act,” or SHARE.

Huffman predicted the push for silencers would be delayed for a time “because people are watching.” However, he predicted the GOP leadership will still seek an opportunity to move the proposal forward, calling it “another way the gun industry will make a whole lot of money.”

See all coverage of the Las Vegas shooting here.