June 22, 2016 at 5:24 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Dems stage House floor sit-in to call for gun safety vote

sit-in, gun violence, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) join the sit-in at the United States House of Representatives. (Image courtesy C-Span)

Wearing rainbow-colored pins in remembrance of the LGBT victims of the Orlando shooting, House Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor Wednesday to urge the Republican majority to take action on gun safety measures.

Led by civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), House Democrats called on U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to hold a vote on legislation that would expand background checks and prohibit suspected terrorists on the “no fly” list from purchasing a firearm.

“We cannot continue to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the reality of mass gun violence in our nation,” Lewis said on the House floor. “Deadly mass shootings are becoming more and more frequent. Mr. Speaker, this is a fact, it is not an opinion. We must remove the blinders. The time for silence and patience is long gone. We are calling on the leadership of the House to bring common-sense gun control legislation to the House floor.”

Lewis announced the sit-in shortly before noon and pledged to continue the House held a vote on gun safety legislation. Gay Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) were among the House Democrats seen on the House floor participating in action. As of the time of this posting, the sit-in continued.

During a news conference on the steps of U.S. Capitol, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the gun safety measures on which Democrats are seeking a vote have overwhelming support among Americans.

“Since Orlando, probably, nearly a couple hundred people – over 150 people have died from gun violence in the streets of our country,” Pelosi said. “We want to address that issue as well as to deeply pray for those who lost their lives and their family members in Orlando and all of the mass shootings before that, but also remembering those who lose their lives to gun violence every single day.”

As the sit-in continued, Ryan cut coverage on the House floor on CSPAN on the basis that House Democrats were violating the rules of the chamber, so House Democrats resorted to Facebook and Periscope to broadcast their sit-in.

“The House cannot operate without members following the rules of the institution, so the House has recessed subject to the call of the chair,” said Ryan spokesperson AshLee Strong.

Among those seen joining House Democrats on the floor in solidarity were Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Barbra Mikulski (D-Md.) and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • Go ahead LCR, denigrate the great civil rights champion John Lewis for standing with the LGBT community against the gun lobby, I dare you. I am guessing if you do, your Board Chair won’t be able to show his face among civilized society, gay or straight in Atlanta. Perhaps its time that we say f–k the rules of the House and Senate and get things done the way we know how. Too many people are dying so that old white men can cling to power.

    • Im Just Sayin NONSENSE. Why don’t you ask these silly folks why they demand to be guarded by men with guns but want the rest of us left to fend for ourselves? Here is the only gun regulation Gays need: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

      • What’s nonsense is that you wouldn’t dream of standing up at the funeral of any one of the Orlando victims and tell their family that the only gun law “Gays” need is the second amendment and you’re sorry that it didn’t work out that well for their loved one but the fault is their own for not exercising their right in Florida for concealed carry. Or maybe you would. This country had an assault weapons ban in place for ten years, so it’s not legality that’s the problem, it’s the will of the shills of the NRA… Republican members of the House and Senate. Oh and that “silly” folk you malign, had the courage to march across that bridge in Selma for what he believed, putting his life on the line. What have you ever done in your life to think you can disrespect a man like John Lewis?

  • The Second Amendment can’t be reasonably construed to include anything other than small clip handguns and similar capacity hunting firearms. Anything else can and should be banned and/or heavily regulated.

    It is time to vote every terrorist-enabling candidate, regardless of party, out of office.

    • Who are you to reasonably construe this? Automatic weapons have been banned from public use for decades. Just because a rifle looks scary like it’s for military use does not mean that it is!

      • Who are you to be a hate crime and terrorist enabler?

        SCOTUS has made it very clear that beyond reasonable self-defense, lots of high- capacity and semi-automatic guns can be regulated and/or banned. Essentially, it’s just a matter of political will, now.

        • Snowflake you need to look no further than the White House, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to find all your hate crime and terrorist enablers. Maybe Milo Yiannopoulos can help you.

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