Scroll To Top
Politics

House Dems Stage Sit-In Over Gun Violence: 'No Bill, No Break'

House Dems Stage Sit-In Over Gun Violence: 'No Bill, No Break'

John Lewis

C-SPAN cameras are not allowed to show the sit-in, so Democrats have started streaming the protest live using Periscope and Facebook. 

True
sunnivie

Led by famed civil rights leader and Georgia congressman John Lewis, Democrats are staging a sit-in on the House floor today, demanding the chamber's Republican leadership allow a vote on two gun control bills.

Wearing rainbow ribbons in memory of the 49 LGBT people and allies killed in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub July 12, the Democrats spoke passionately about the dire need for what they called "common sense" gun control -- specifically, universal background checks and a ban on gun purchases by anyone placed on terror watch lists. The latter proposal has been nicknamed "no fly, no buy," since individuals who are on the federal "no fly" list and cannot board a plane should not be allowed to legally stockpile firearms and ammunition, supporters say.

The proposals mimic two of the four bills which failed to win enough votes in the Senate on Monday, after Democrats orchestrated a successful filibuster on Thursday and demanded a vote.

Lewis, lauded by his colleagues as "the soul of the United States Congress," issued an emotional plea on the House floor for lawmakers to take any kind of action.

"We have turned deaf ears to the blood of the innocent and concern of our nation," Lewis said. "We are blind to a crisis. Mr. Speaker, where is the heart of this body? Where is our soul? Where is our moral leadership? Where is our courage?"

john lewis

Lewis, a contemporary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and himself a Freedom Rider who was active in organizing the historic march from Selma, Ala., to Birmingham in 1965, evoked his own history in the civil rights movement in his call for action.

"Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary," Lewis said. "Sometimes you have to make a way out of no way. We have been too quiet for too long. There comes a time when you have to say something, when you have to make a little noise. When you have to move your feet. This is the time. Now is the time to get in the way. The time to act is now. We will be silent no more. ... We have to occupy the floor of the House until there is action."

More than a dozen Democrats then sat on the floor of the House of Representatives, refusing to move even after the acting speaker gaveled the session into recess. They began chanting "no bill, no break," over the objections of House leadership. Cameras inside the House were turned off after the speaker's gavel sounded, but members of Congress could still be heard chanting.

The official C-SPAN cameras inside the chamber, which are controlled by House leadership, were turned off when the House broke for a recess, though Democrats refused to yield the floor. The crawl at the bottom of C-SPAN's live video window noted that the network was not allowed to show the sit-in, so instead it featured cell phone video from the floor being live-streamed by members of Congress participating in the protest.

Many of the sit-in participants spoke about the Orlando shooting. Earlier this morning, out Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline took the floor to express his frustration over the ongoing Congressional blockade of any marginal efforts to curb gun violence.

"This is really, really simple," Cicilline said, advocating for a vote on the 'no fly, no buy' law. "If you're too dangerous to fly on an airplane, then you're too dangerous to buy a gun. But under the laws that we have in place today, someone who is on the FBI's terrorist watch list, too dangerous to get on a plane, can walk into any gun store in America, pass a background check, and walk out with an assault weapon or any gun he wants."

Rep. Judy Chu told MSNBC's Luke Russert that the Orlando shooting had spurred them to the highly unusual action. "So many of us said enough is enough," she said. "We have to do something about this."

Watch Lewis's remarks below, as well as a video report, and watch the full sit-in on C-SPAN.

sunnivie
Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreAdvocate Magazine - Gio Benitez

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Sunnivie Brydum

Sunnivie is the managing editor of The Advocate, and an award-winning journalist whose passion is covering the politics of equality and elevating the unheard stories of our community. Originally from Colorado, she and her spouse now live in Los Angeles, along with their three fur-children: dogs Luna and Cassie Doodle, and "Meow Button" Tilly.
Sunnivie is the managing editor of The Advocate, and an award-winning journalist whose passion is covering the politics of equality and elevating the unheard stories of our community. Originally from Colorado, she and her spouse now live in Los Angeles, along with their three fur-children: dogs Luna and Cassie Doodle, and "Meow Button" Tilly.