Democrats Are Staging A Sit-In On The House Floor To Demand Gun Reform

The Democrats are reportedly not taking the GOP's resistance to any new gun control reforms lying down — to the contrary, they're taking it sitting down. According to NBC News, congressional Democrats are staging a gun control sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives. This latest, activism-tinged step comes hot on the heels of the congressional GOP voting down proposed gun control reforms that were brought to the Senate floor on Monday. Those votes were the fruits of all the labor Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy put in during his epic, nearly 15-hour filibuster last week, but even amid all the pressure and overwhelming public sentiment, the Republicans closed ranks and thwarted them, with four "no" votes in just one day.

It seems as though congressional Democrats aren't going to accept this outcome without exerting some more pressure, however — a campus activism-style sit-in is sure to draw attention, and frankly, few things scream "unity to the cause" like a picture of Democratic congressional leaders sitting cross-legged on the House floor. According to USA Today correspondent Deborah Berry, assembled Democrats chanted "No bill, no break" as they stayed fixed to the House floor — they did reportedly rise to their feet, however, when the House chaplain offered a prayer.

It comes as little surprise that the Democrats are leaning into this line of attack, considering the palpable urgency of the moment and the rebuke that Republicans in the Senate handed them on Monday. What they're sitting-in to protest, in this case, is rapidly becoming a central political issue just months out from the general election, and despite the extreme futility that attempted reforms to America's gun laws have been met with throughout the Obama era, it seems as though the party has made a conscious decision to press this advantage as hard as they can.

Which is not to say the gesture isn't also deeply felt — the gathered Democrats have also read names of victims of gun violence aloud, and have protested that House Republican leaders ordered C-SPAN's cameras turned off after their demonstration began. One of the representatives involved in the protest is Georgia congressperson John Lewis, a living civil rights hero and longtime Democratic leader.

Sad as it may sound, these sorts of acts of symbolic protest might be the only realistic road forward for elected Democrats who want to see new reforms passed on gun laws, because the GOP has made it very clear that they're not afraid to buck public consensus on this. Polling over the past several months and years has consistently shown that a staggering majority (including a majority of Republicans) support expanding background checks, for example.

But all the overwhelming numbers in the world haven't made a bit of difference, which is a pretty good sign that the GOP is either so dedicated to fighting gun reforms on principled grounds, so in the thrall of the deep-pocketed NRA, or more than likely, some combination of both. It's smart politics for the Democrats to try to keep this issue burning in a high-profile way for as long as they can, however — cynical as it may be, mass shootings only linger in the public consciousness for so long, meaning the window of time in which to galvanize support won't stay open forever.