At this very moment, Democrats are staging a sit-in on the House floor to demand gun control reform.
On Monday the Senate rejected four proposed gun control bills. Republicans proposed a three-day hold on gun purchases made by people who are on terror watchlist, while Democrats proposed banning anyone on a terror watchlist from purchasing guns altogether. Democrats put forth background-check requirements for most gun buyers, while Republicans focused background-check reform on mental health assessments.
TL;DR: they didn’t meet in the middle, and everyone went home empty handed.
But the House Democrats aren’t giving up that easily.
What’s going on now?
Since the Republicans control the House, House Speaker Paul Ryan will not commit to holding a vote on a new gun control bill. Led by Rep. John Lewis, the congressional Democrats are now occupying the floor of the House to protest Republican reluctance to move on gun control. Lewis, a Big Six leader of the Civil Rights Movement, has made a career of nonviolent civil disobedience and hopes that the revival of this historic tactic will push Congress to reform gun control. The Democrats have vowed to remain on the floor until a vote on the bill is scheduled.
“We have lost hundreds and thousands of innocent people to gun violence,” Lewis said. “Tiny little children, babies, students, and teachers, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, friends and neighbors. And what has this body done? Mr. Speaker, not one thing.”
Unlike many other House debates, you’ll notice there’s no footage of the sit-in on TV. That’s because House Speaker Ryan has declared a “recess,” during which time cameras are generally turned off. They have since moved their broadcast to the social media platform Periscope.
The Democrats have declared the effort #NoBillNoBreak, which is now trending on Twitter, and called on Ryan to bring them back into session or turn the cameras back on, but he has refused.
Democrats' efforts are being applauded, most notably via a tweet from POTUS.
Thank you John Lewis for leading on gun violence where we need it most. https://t.co/vctfqAH5Wt— President Obama (@POTUS) June 22, 2016
Rep. Keith Ellison’s mother even sent him a note to get him to the floor.