Democrats End Gun Control Sit-In
House Democrats have ended their 25½-hour sit-in on the chamber’s floor that they’ve been staging to demand votes on gun control.
With just a few interruptions, Democrats commanded the House floor since 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. The protest was broadcast live to the world over social media.
There are no indications that Republicans, who control the House, have met the Democrats’ demands.
House Republicans called a marathon Democratic sit-in a publicity stunt and adjourned the chamber until July 5. The action, an attempt to get a vote on gun control measures, led by Georgia Rep. John Lewis, began Wednesday around 11:30 a.m. and went into Thursday morning, disrupting the business of Congress.
The demonstration, staged largely in response to the Orlando shooting rampage, was cut off from broadcasting by House cameras, but protesting legislators managed to send video feeds to the world through social media applications like Periscope and Facebook Live. More than 200 Democratic lawmakers participated in the action.
By 10 a.m. EDT the Democrats were continuing their demonstration, giving speeches explaining why they felt a gun control measure is necessary. Earlier this week, the Senate rejected gun control proposals that would keep extremists from acquiring guns and improve the government’s existing system of required background checks for many firearms purchases.
“While the Americans don’t always expect us to win, they do expect us to fight,” said Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, as dawn broke and the few remaining lawmakers sat in a paper-cluttered chamber beneath empty visitor galleries. “We demonstrated to the American people why we can’t get votes on common sense safety measures.”
When Republicans streamed to the exits hours earlier, Democrats remained on the House floor, shouting “No bill no break!” and waving papers with the names of gun victims written in black. Rep. Maxine Waters of California said she was ready to stay “until Hell freezes over.”
With a crowd cheering them on from outside the Capitol and many more following the theatrics on social media, Democrats declared success in dramatizing the argument for action to stem gun violence.
Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who had participated in the civil rights sit-ins in the South in the 1960s, said Democrats had “crossed one bridge.” He added, “We have other bridges to cross.” He said Democrats “made a down payment on ending gun violence” in America.
Republicans publicly blasted the protest.
“Democrats can continue to talk, but the reality is that they have no end-game strategy,” House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement, according to CNN. “The Senate has already defeated the measure they’re calling for. The House is focused on eliminating terrorists, not constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. And no stunts on the floor will change that.”