In gun violence protest, House Democrats stage sit-in, shut down chamber, and take to Twitter

photo: @RepEsty

Democratic lawmakers today staged a sit-in on the House floor, demanding a vote on gun control legislation. The lawmakers' dramatic action, which shut down the chamber, was a response to the June 12 mass shooting at an Orlando, Florida nightclub that killed 49 people and a response to Monday's vote that failed to advance four gun control amendments.

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a news conference with the House Democratic Caucus to call on House Speaker Paul Ryan to allow a vote on gun violence prevention legislation in Capitol Hill, Washington, U.S., June 22, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a news conference with the House Democratic Caucus to call on House Speaker Paul Ryan to allow a vote on gun violence prevention legislation in Capitol Hill, Washington, U.S., June 22, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

"Where is our courage?" asked Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. "Those who pursue common-sense improvement are beaten down. Reason is is put aside... What is the tipping point? Are we blind. Can we see? .. Give us a vote! we came here to do our job!"

Lewis told NBC News that "sometimes you are moved by history."

Georgia congressman John Lewis deployed a strategy from his days as a civil rights activist and staged a dramatic sit-in Wednesday on the House floor with his fellow Democrats to force a vote on gun control.

"Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary, sometimes you have to make a way out of no way," said Lewis, one of the last living icons of civil disobedience during the civil rights movement. "There comes a time when you have to say 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."

He and roughly 40 fellow House Democrats vowed "to occupy the floor of the House until there is action."

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