Democrats have staged a sit-in on the U.S. House floor demanding action on gun control.
This sit-in comes the week after Senate Democrats led a filibuster calling for votes on gun control legislation after the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. House Democrats are requesting a vote on a bill that would prevent people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. This proposal is commonly known as the “no fly, no buy” bill. On Monday, four votes on gun control bills failed to pass the Senate.
Led by Representative John Lewis, Democrat and prominent civil rights figure, House representatives entered the chamber before noon. Democrats have requested House Speaker Paul Ryan to come into the House chamber. Representative John Lewis, D-Georgia and civil rights leader and Representative John Clyburn, number three Democrat in the House are among the Democrats in the sit-in. The Democrats participating changed “No Bill, No Break!” Some have said they should not leave the House floor because they may not be allowed to return.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan ended the live feed of the floor, blocking people outside the Capitol from watching the sit-in. Members of the House are not allowed to hold the floor for unlimited periods of time, unlike in the Senate, where filibusters are open-ended periods of debate. Yarmouth has said that disrupting the House is the only way to force a vote on gun control legislation.
Since live feed was shut off, Democrats have been active on social media to spread awareness of the sit-in. As they continued on the House floor, staffers brought bottled water and other supplies into the chamber. It is possible the protest could last until Thursday.
Senator Chris Murphy who led the nearly 15-hour filibuster on the Senate last week, made an appearance to encourage the Democrats. His filibuster forced a series of votes on gun measures in the Senate.
“I hope they stay in there as long as it takes, through the day, through the night, until they get the vote,” Murphy said.
Some Democrats have gathered on the Capitol steps, taking turns speaking as Democrats and gun violence protestors gathered.
Republicans have shown no sign of bending to the Democrats’ will.
“The house cannot operate without members following the rules of the institution, so the House has recessed subject to the call of the chair,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Speaker Paul Ryan, said.
Representative John Lewis’ central leadership role in the sit-in encouraged and inspired others to participate.
“We have been quiet for too long. There comes a time when you have to say something. You have to make a little noise. You have to move your feet. This is the time. How many more mothers? How many more fathers need to shed tears of grief before we do something? Give us a vote. Let us vote.”