The spirit of protest is still kicking in the U.S. Capitol. After sitting in on the House floor for nearly 26 hours, House Democrats say they will be back after the holiday to continue their fight for new gun control legislation.
On Wednesday (June 22), just before noon, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga) gave a speech on the topic of gun control, which you can watch above. After calling House Democrats to join him on the floor, he addressed Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wi) directly:
On occasion, Mr. Speaker, I have had what I call an executive session with myself. For months, even for years, through seven sessions of Congress, I’ve wondered: What would bring this body to take action? What would finally make Congress do what is right, what is just, what the people of this country have been demanding, and what is long overdue? We have lost hundreds of thousands of innocent people to gun violence…. And what has this body done? Mr. Speaker, nothing. Not one thing. We have turned deaf ears to the blood of the innocent and the concern of our nation. 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?… We have to occupy the floor of the House until there is action.
Nineteen representatives, lead by Lewis, sent Ryan a letter urging the body to pass legislation that expands background checks and prevents suspected terrorists from purchasing guns. But about 30 members joined Lewis as he sat down on the floor of the House. House leadership called for a recess immediately after, which means the public video feed and C-SPAN cameras were turned off. The public station later broadcast House members’ videos to give viewers a look inside the chamber.
The members—at times joined by like-minded Senators—sat on the floor, giving speeches, reading letters and singing protest songs for almost 26 hours, despite the fact that Ryan called the protest a “stunt” and adjourned the body until July 5. The legislature is scheduled to go on a much longer break July 18th through Labor Day. Lewis and his colleagues are saying #NoBillNoBreak, vowing to resume the fight to pass gun control legislation when they return on the 5th.
The House is currently under Republican control with 247 party members to the Democrats’ 188. Some have criticized Dem’s plans as being over-reliant on the officially known as the Terrorist Screening Database, which has been cited for being inaccurate and subjective with the potential for racial and religious profiling.