Democrats Stage Sit-In On House Floor Over Gun Control

Wednesday, June 22nd 2016, 12:54 pm
By: News 9

Just days after four gun control measures failed to pass in the U.S. Senate, House Democrats are staging their own protest on the floor of the lower chamber over firearm safety legislation.

A group of roughly 60 legislators sat down cross-legged in the middle of the House floor Wednesday, pushing for gun control votes. Some remained standing on the floor.

The group included civil rights icon Rep, John Lewis, D-Georgia, Kentucky's Rep. John Yarmuth, and Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut.

"We have been too quiet for too long," Lewis said. "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."

Members took turns speaker passionately at the podium, chanting "No bill, no break" after each speech.

Later, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina led a prayer on the floor, with Democrats holding hands.

Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton threw her support behind the sit-in Wednesday, praising the lawmakers' protest as "real leadership".

Other lawmakers are also throwing their weight behind the floor sit-in.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who led a filibuster in the Senate last week leading to the votes on gun measures, also walked in to the House chamber to show his support. His fellow Connecticut senator, Richard Blumenthal, also joined the sit-in.

Democratic lawmakers' frustrations on the inaction boiled over in the aftermath of the shooting at an Orlando nightclub last week, when a gunman opened fire and killed dozens of people in the deadliest U.S. mass shooting in history.

The Democrats' sit-in comes a little over a week after they shouted down Paul Ryan on the floor during a moment of silence after Orlando shooting, demanding that a vote be held on gun control legislation.

Over the past five years, legislators have introduced more than 100 gun control measuresin Congress. But despite numerous mass shootings in the country since 2011, none of them have passed into law, and few have made it to the House or Senate floor for a vote.

In the latest legislative battle over firearm safety Monday, after Democrats staged a nearly 15-hour filibuster, Senate Republicans blocked four amendments that would have expanded criminal background checks before gun purchases and instituted a "no fly, no buy" policy for those on federal terror watch lists, among other policies.

After the four measures failed to advance, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, unveiled legislation Tuesday to prevent terrorists from obtaining guns. Its backers say the bill could actually win over a 60-vote majority and pass through the Senate.

The House briefly returned for legislative business at noon.

The Republican presiding over the chamber quickly ordered the House back into recess. Democrats were asked to leave the well of the House floor, but legislators refused to budge from their positions.

"We will not be moved," Florida Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat, said on the floor.

CBS News' Walt Cronkite and Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report.

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