Some claim the Democratic sit-in led by Rep. Lewis(D-GA) was a stunt. Here is another view from a participant, Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA).
On Wednesday I participated in floor action by Democrats, calling for a vote on some commonsense gun control measures. Many of us have been frustrated for a while by the lack of action in Congress. Too many times, moments of silence have taken the place of progress. We owe much more than sympathy to all the families who have lost their precious loved ones to gun violence – in Orlando, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino and in communities in every corner of our country.
This effort came together quickly amongst a small group of Members and, as we were planning our action, I had my doubts as to whether it would be seen as a statement or a stunt by the average American. Nonetheless, nothing else has been able to get the issue to the floor for a vote and we figured a protest on the floor of the House was worth a try.
I gave my first floor speech at the start of the action around 10:30 AM on the need to expand background checks and keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists before the House was called to order on Wednesday. After that my role for the remainder of the action was to essentially act as “Parliamentarian” for our group– to make sure we took advantage of as many rules as possible, keep order, and work with the offices of the real House Parliamentarian and Sergeant-at-Arms to ensure a smooth line of communication. After Rep. John Lewis so eloquently made the case for action, we began our sit-in. Republican leadership promptly recessed the House, which also cuts off the floor microphones and CSPAN cameras.
Over the next 24 hours, Members used social media and smart phones to communicate beyond the House floor and our message resonated. I spoke again around9:30 PM to a chamber filled with Members committed to advancing reasonable gun control measures.
I was honored to participate in the sit-in and truly touched by all of my constituents who reached out with expressions of support. Our office voice mail box filled up and we heard from so many of you via email and social media. Thank you for standing with us.
I know we haven’t succeeded in getting a bill to the floor yet, but for the first time I can see the cracks forming. I have always believed that the real success in life is measured by the commitment to doing what is right without regard for winning or losing – do what you can.
With your continued support, we now have a chance to get a vote on expanded background checks and on No Fly, No Buy. The House was originally scheduled to be in session until today. Instead, Speaker Ryan adjourned the House until July 5th rather than just allow a vote. This is not over. Those of us who believe that more can be done to prevent gun violence are just getting started.
The demand for a vote on gun control seems very reasonable to me. Why should Speaker Ryan not allow a vote?