Since 11:30 a.m., House Democrats have been in a sit-in protest on the floor of the Congress demanding a vote on gun control. C-SPAN cameras have been shut off, some say to hide the protest and others say that it’s normal procedure when the House is not in session.
In retrospective, Republicans also performed a sit-in eight years ago to protest gas prices.
An unusual protest in Congress
It was called by the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, a “publicity stunt.” Democrats turned to Twitter and Periscope to deliver their message since C-SPAN cameras were turned off, which was endorsed by Ryan.
John Lewis led the protest as he stated: “We can no longer be patient. So today, we come to the well of the House to dramatize the need for action. Not next month, not next year, but now — today.”
My colleagues & I have had enough. We are sitting-in on the House Floor until we get a vote to address gun violence. https://t.co/rTqrPifuUz
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) June 22, 2016
President Obama supported Lewis’ action with a tweet:
Thank you John Lewis for leading on gun violence where we need it most. https://t.co/vctfqAH5Wt
— President Obama (@POTUS) June 22, 2016
The events have carried the hashtag #NoBillNoBreak, while many Twitter users have shown their support towards a more dramatic approach to gun control.
— Lily Knol (@lylydd) June 22, 2016
But Democrats have managed to broadcast the events through Periscope, which represents a major difference when comparing the current protest to the sit-in staged by Republicans in 2008. Eventually, C-SPAN started to air a Congressman’s Periscope feed through their signal, a first for the channel’s broadcasting.
— Scott Peters (@ScottPetersSD) June 22, 2016
Why is this happening?
Wednesday’s events come from the fact that four gun-control bills were proposed in the Senate, but all of them failed to pass. Among the bills, Senators proposed to definitely stop sales to individuals that are or have been on terror watch lists. There are also proposals of extensive background checks for gun owners, a three-day waiting period in which a judge may stop the sale. These bills failed because they did not have the vote of the majority of Democrats.
Many ask themselves that, if there is such a problem involving gun control, why didn’t the Democratic representation vote for the Republican bills last Monday?
There were two major gun control bills proposed on Monday. The first, Grassley’s bill, was protested by Democrats arguing that veterans and people that have been involuntarily committed to psychiatric institutions will still be able to buy guns in the future. They claim that there are much better proposals regarding the competence of the gun owner.
Then there’s Cornyn’s bill, which requires for the person to have “committed, conspired to commit, attempted to commit, or will commit an act of terrorism.” This proposal is clearly ineffective for those that have not been proven to have plans of performing an act of terror, such as it is the case of Orlando gunman Omar Mateen. The other two bills were proposed by Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Chris Murphy, and they were rejected by Republicans. Feinstein’s proposal would allow an attorney to deny firearms to a suspected terrorist and Murphy’s bill would call for background checks for people buying guns at gun shows or online.
Democrats argue that the Republicans’ proposed bills are dangerous and have several loopholes. Wednesday’s sit-in is an urge coming from the Democratic Party to discuss more direct measures to apply gun control in the U.S., which may be an urgent necessity seeing that just over a week has passed after the worst mass shooting in the country’s history.