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Moulton says Paul Ryan told him ‘there’s no way to do a little’ on gun control

Congressman Seth MoultonDrew Angerer for The Boston Globe

Congressman Seth Moulton said Wednesday that House Speaker Paul Ryan told him during a one-on-one conversation that gun law changes after the Las Vegas massacre are unlikely, because “then everybody wants a lot.”

Moulton, a Salem Democrat who’s been floated as a possible presidential candidate in 2020, made the remarks during an appearance on WGBH-FM’s “Boston Public Radio” program.

He said he approached Ryan on Tuesday and asked him if Congress could move forward on any changes to gun policy.

“I just went up to the speaker, and I said ‘Mr. Speaker, can we do anything on guns?’ ” Moulton said. “I was very polite about it. I just said, ‘Is there any way?’ And it was just he and I, so there were no other people listening in.”


The speaker’s response was not encouraging, said Moulton, who voiced support during the interview for universal background checks on firearm sales, including purchases at gun shows.

“He just gave me that kind of non-answer, like, ‘Oh no, I don’t really think so. Because, you know . . . there’s no way to do a little, because then everybody wants a lot,’ ”Moulton said.

Ryan’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Moulton’s version of the conversation.

Moulton said during his radio appearance that Ryan could easily bring a bill to the floor that calls for modest changes to the nation’s gun laws.

“You can do whatever you want, you’re the speaker of the House,” Moulton said. “If you don’t want a bill that does a lot to come to the floor, then pick a bill that does a little, but at least do something.”

Moulton did not specify where his talk with Ryan occurred.

“Speaker Ryan, do your job,” Moulton said in a video posted to his Twitter feed Wednesday.

Calls for gun reform have intensified after a weekend shooting rampage in Las Vegas killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500 more. A group of US senators, including Massachusetts Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, announced Wednesday they were filing legislation that would close a loophole that allows semiautomatic weapons to be modified into fully automatic weapons.


Ryan, the GOP vice presidential candidate in 2012, said in remarks Tuesday that “we are all just reeling from this horror that we witnessed in Las Vegas. . . . We cannot let the actions of a single person define us as a country. That’s not who we are. Instead what truly defines us are the acts of heroism we witnessed after the tragedy.”

On Wednesday, Ryan hailed the passage of an abortion measure that cleared the House.

“Good news→ Last night, the House passed #MicahsLaw, restricting abortions on babies after the 20-week mark,” Ryan tweeted. “#TheyFeelPain.”

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.