Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell gets choked up talking about last Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas because it reminds her of her father, Guido Mucarsel, who was killed by a gunman in her native Ecuador when she was 24.
"It never goes away," she said Friday of the sadness that will follow the families of the 58 Vegas victims.
On Thursday, in the wake of the Vegas massacre, Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo plans to file legislation to ban devices that make semiautomatic weapons fire like deadlier automatic weapons. Mucarsel-Powell, who has filed to challenge Curbelo in 2018, agreed with the policy but criticized it as falling far short of what Congress should have already done to prevent shootings.
"It's playing politics with people's lives," she said. "Of course, it's an obvious first step, but I think Congress has failed to act when they've had the opportunity."
Two years ago, she noted, Curbelo voted against legislation expanding background checks. He has an 86 percent rating from the National Rifle Association.
"In our district, there are gun shows where people can walk in and buy a gun without a background check," Mucarsel-Powell said. "Political courage is not really doing something when it's convenient but when it's necessary."
Curbelo has been getting national press for his bipartisan legislation plan, appearing Friday morning on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel to discuss the bill, filed Thursday with Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat.
On CNN's "New Day," host Chris Cuomo asked Curbelo about doing more than prohibiting "bump stocks" that help rifles fire more rounds more quickly. Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock also bought some 30 weapons and stockpiled ammunition.
"That's a fair point," Curbelo told Cuomo, noting that last year he filed, but failed to pass, legislation to prohibit people under FBI investigation for suspected terrorism ties from buying guns. "And I think a lot of people are going to call for more, Chris, but I don't want to diminish what we're doing. For decades, compromise between Republicans and Democrats on this issue has been elusive. This might be a small but a very important step."