In a nod to decades-old, traditional-style protesting, several local Democrats were among more than 200 total to participate in a sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, demanding tighter gun control in the wake of Orlando’s mass shooting — the worst mass shooting in the country’s history.
Representatives Bob Brady, Mike Doyle, Brendan Boyle and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania and Donald Norcross of New Jersey joined in to demand a vote on legislation that would bolster background checks and prohibit suspected terrorists from purchasing guns. Democrats called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to debate and vote on gun legislation next week, despite a scheduled recess.
When Republicans in the House administration shut down broadcasting cameras, C-SPAN picked up feeds from the cellphones of Democrats who recorded, shared and periscoped the sit-in. It was an unprecedented move.
Democrats sang, “We Shall Overcome” and held up signs with the names of victims of gun violence. Ryan yelled “Shame! Shame!” as he attempted to continue business as usual, writing off the sit-in as a staged “publicity stunt,” according to the Associated Press.
In an interview with CNN, Ryan said there would be no vote.
The protest began around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. The chamber was adjourned by Republicans at 3:15 a.m. Thursday, but as of 7:30 a.m. Thursday, 12 Democrats were still sitting on the floor, according to the AP. Minority leader Nancy Pelosi was among them.
The House isn’t expected to pick up session until after July 4th.
Democrats posted the Capitol’s main telephone number, which was “overwhelmed” during the sit-in, according to the AP. They also encouraged tweeting under the hashtag #NoBillNoBreak.
A crowd gathered outside the building.