On Wednesday, a group of Democrats organized a sit-in on the House floor, refusing to move until a vote is held on the "No Fly, No Buy" bill, Pennsylvania Representative Mike Doyle tweeted. The bipartisan piece of legislation would make it illegal to sell guns to individuals on the no fly list. After four gun control bills were voted down on Monday, it represents House Democrats' last chance to actively address the June 12 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people. High-profile Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama, and Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, have condemned Congress' inaction in the days since.
The sit-in is being led by Georgia Rep. John Lewis. The civil rights leader wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, insisting that the gun control debate continue despite the planned recess. Lewis wrote:
As the worst mass shooting in our nation's history has underscored, our country cannot afford to stand by while this Congress continues to be paralyzed by politics. We urge you to lead the House into action and work with both sides of the aisle to pass commonsense solutions to keep American children and families safe.
Other Democrats involved in the effort include Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, Connecticut Reps. Joe Courtney, Jim Himes, and John Larson, Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson, Michigan Rep. Dale Kildee, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty, and Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond.
Lewis is incredibly experienced in organizing influential sit-ins. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, he used the form of civil disobedience to protest segregated lunchroom counters at Fisk University. Shortly afterwards, he became one of the 13 original Freedom Riders and helped create the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which heavily promoted student activism. Today, the civil rights leader is choosing to speak out again. He made a statement on the House floor, encouraging Democrats and gun control advocates to stand their ground.
Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes you have to make a way out of no way. We have been too quiet for too long. There comes a time when you have to say something, when you have to make a little noise, when you have to move your feet. This is the time. Now is the time to get in the way. The time to act is now. We will be silent no more.
According to USA Today Washington correspondent Deborah Berry, those participating in the sit-in are chanting "No bill, no break!" in an attempt to pressure the Republican-led Congress to simply hold a vote. If the vote is held, there's no guarantee it will be passed. Though Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, spearheaded the push to pass the bill as a compromise between both political parties, it's unclear whether she's involved in the show of civil disobedience.