Democrats have decided to end their sit-in protest over gun control without any indications that Republicans, who control the House, have met demands to vote on bills strengthening background checks and barring firearms sales to people on the government’s no-fly list.
The Democrats’ protest over the lack of action on gun control lasted for more than 24 hours and was broadcast live on social media after GOP leaders pulled the plug on C-SPAN coverage. The protest captured America’s attention and sparked the hashtag #NoBillNoBreak which resulted in thousands of tweets supporting the protest.
“It’s rightful indignation,” Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., said. “America has had enough.”
Democrats took turns delivering speeches, often promising not to back down in their drive to curb firearm violence. Placards with photos of gun victims and the phone number of the Capitol switchboard were prominently displayed on the floor throughout the process.
While Republicans went home on Wednesday, Democrats stayed behind on the House floor shouting “No bill, no break!”
Representatives John Lewis, D-Ga., and John Larson, D-Conn., organized the sit-in. Over 40 Democrats walked into the chamber just before noon ET on Wednesday and pledged to “occupy” the House floor until GOP leadership allowed a vote.
Meanwhile, top Republicans downplayed the protest as a publicity stunt.
“We are not going to allow stunts like this to stop us from carrying out the people’s business,” Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Thursday morning in dismissing the protest.
Gun control has become a hot topic following the shootings at Pulse nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people and injured 53 others. The deadliest mass shooting in American history has Lewis fired up, saying his party took a step forward with the sit-in.
“We have other bridges to cross,” the civil rights leader said before adding that Democrats “made a down payment on ending gun violence” in America.
Ryan cut off C-SPAN’s access to the House floor and said the cameras would remain off until Democrats stop delaying normal legislative business. Many political reporters and C-SPAN viewers were forced to take to social media to watch the action, although it is against House rules to broadcast from the floor. Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., broke the rules and broadcasted via Periscope.