After the horrific Orlando nightclub shooting that resulted in the deaths of 49 people and just as many injuries, it seemed that Congress might actually do something about several legal loopholes that allowed a suspected terrorist to purchase firearms. Senate Democrats filibustered for almost 15 hours to secure bipartisan promises for votes on upcoming amendments, but their efforts seemed meaningless after all four measures failed. So about 40 House Democrats decided to pick up the slack and, on Wednesday morning, staged a sit-in on the House floor while Republican leaders conducted a session for visitors.
Led by civil-rights icon John Lewis (D-Georgia), Politico reports the representative addressed the chamber with his fellow Democrats, telling everyone they’d “been too 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. We came here to do our job. We came here to work.”
The group then stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before sitting on the floor and chanting, “No bill, no break.” Once the other representatives gathered realized Lewis and his companions weren’t going to acquiesce control of the floor back to the chair, the latter declared “the House is not in a state of order” and therefore put it “in recess.” In other words, the session came to an end as abruptly as it began and everyone was asked to leave. Even C-Span was required to turn off its microphones and cameras.
However, the House Democrats stayed and kept up their protest on social media. Rep. Scott Peters (D-California) hosted a live Periscope of the proceedings for at least 39 minutes before scrubbing the feed. Meanwhile, Lewis and his colleagues took to Twitter to post statements, images and other media under the hashtags #NoBillNoBreak, #goodtrouble and #NOMORESILENCE.
As news of Lewis’s sit-in spread, members of the press, senators and other passersby flocked to the House chambers to watch, report and support the sit-in.
Even Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), who led the Democrats’ nearly 15-hour filibuster the previous week, paid his respects to Lewis and his House colleagues.
He also retweeted Kim Kardashian, so there’s that.