Earlier today, Rep. John Lewis and a number of his colleagues started a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives to push for action on gun control. Watch the moment he and his colleagues announced their intention to #HoldtheFloor until Congress acts.
Lewis, a civil-rights icon who is borrowing a venerable tactic from that movement to press the cause — this time after the civil rights of gay people were violated by a massacre at an Orlando nightclub that left 49 people dead — told his House colleagues that the time for silence is over.
“Mr. Speaker, where is the heart in this body? Where is our soul? Where is our moral leadership? Where is our courage?
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. Give us a vote. Let us vote. We came here to do our job. We came here to work. The American people are demanding action. Do we have the courage? Do we have the raw courage to make at least a down payment on ending gun violence in America? We can no longer wait. 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!
Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes you have to do something out of the way. We’ve been too quiet for too long. There comes a time when you have to do 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. The time for silence is over.”
Lewis kicked off a series of short speeches by Democrats, who gathered in the well of the House, where they would not be missed by C-SPAN cameras focused on the speakers. The political theater had gone on just seven minutes when the No. 2-ranking Democrat in the House, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, took the podium. At that point Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican who often serves as the House speaker pro tempore, gavelled the chamber into recess. Democrats participating in the sit-in remain on the House floor. You can see that moment here.
We will continue to follow events as the day continues. We will provide more coverage throughout the afternoon.