As America's elected representatives returned from their nearly two-month-long summer break on Tuesday, they were met with a stark number awaiting their arrival:
That's how many people the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says were killed by firearms since Congress broke for its summer recess on July 18.
"Congress is in for a rude awakening today if they thought seven weeks of vacation would wipe the slate clean," Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign, said in a statement from the group. "While Congress enjoyed nearly two months of sun and fun, the American people paid the ultimate price for Congress' inaction, with 4,500 shot and killed during August recess alone. Now that they're finally back at work, gun violence must be a priority for Congress."
Before breaking for the summer, both the Senate and the House saw dramatic efforts to bring legislation to the floor that would have allowed meaningful debate on gun control legislation—efforts that were largely blocked by Republicans. Days after Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) lead a nearly 15-hour filibuster to urge his Senate colleagues to take action on gun reform, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), joined by representatives and senators alike, staged a sit-in on the house floor demanding firearm legislation be brought forth.
As Tuesday's stark number demonstrates, congressional failure to act on gun reform has, in essence, helped contribute to a summer punctuated by record numbers of shootings.
"This is not just some talking point," Gross continued. "These lives were abruptly and violently cut short by guns while politicians did nothing. A twelve-year old was accidentally killed by another child in a South Carolina home. Two Muslim community leaders in New York were gunned down in broad daylight. And in Chicago, an innocent mother of four was caught in the crossfire of two men who should never have been allowed to get their hands on guns in the first place. Stories like these played out again and again and again, thousands of times over. Continued inaction on this issue cannot be justified."
Upon returning to Capital Hill, representatives were met with satirical "while you were out" memos from the Brady Campaign, showcasing the number of deaths that occurred while Congress was on recess. Additionally, the Campaign said it would identify congresspeople particularly beholden to the gun lobby, and deliver to them a personalized note bearing the name of one of their constituents killed by gun violence during the break.