In response to the repeated lack of action from many members of Congress on the issue of gun control, House Democrats staged a "sit-in" on the Congressional floor on Wednesday afternoon. The effort is a protest of the GOP leadership's refusal to vote on the issue following the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people and injured 53 others. Led by Rep. John Lewis, more than 40 Democrats entered the Congressional chamber before noon and pledged to "occupy" the House floor until GOP allowed a vote — and this quote from the Georgia congressman and civil rights icon perfectly explains it all.
Rep. Lewis is known for his inspirational words, but today one of his more famous quotes rings truer than ever. In a tense week, during which Democrats have tried to push legislation, like "no fly, no buy," through the Senate, Rep. Lewis has revealed he is not afraid to rattle the proverbial cage. Though these "sit-ins" are rare, both Democrats and Republicans have staged them over the past few decades — and Rep. Lewis is ready to make some changes as evidenced by this quote, which he revisited in a tweet today. These words may actually become his mantra, since its implications are reminiscent of social justice in the 1950s, but ring just as true in terms of action on gun control today.
"Get in trouble: good trouble, necessary trouble," was the original Rep. Lewis quote, but his revamped version is just as effective in explaining why this House "sit-in" is so crucial.
Whether the representatives will prove themselves as people of progress or inaction — another great Rep. Lewis quote — is something still unknown. Although the protest may have caught House Republicans off their guard, by mid-afternoon, the protesting Democrats showed no signs of budging, chanting, "No bill, no break," and taking turns speaking, as well as reading to the assembly the names of the dead in the Pulse nightclub shooting.
According to Rep. Lewis, "We have been too quiet for too long. 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."
Here's to hoping that America will stop conflating healthy regulation with a fear of tyranny. It is encouraging that some members of Congress take gun violence as seriously as the Americans affected. Thank you for your consistent and meaningful efforts, Rep. John Lewis.