U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen and dozens of other House Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor Wednesday, demanding a vote on legislation to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, according to Michael Collins.
Cohen and other Democrats led by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia brought the House’s morning proceedings to an abrupt halt to call attention to House GOP leaders’ refusal to permit a vote on gun-control legislation.
“Moments of silence have grown old and seem hollow,” said Cohen, a Memphis Democrat. “The American people want a bill to prohibit gun sales to suspected terrorists to come to the floor and pass. If there is a reasonable threat to prohibit an individual from flying, they shouldn’t be allowed to buy a weapon. In addition, gun show and internet loopholes need to be closed when purchasing guns.”
The Democrats’ protest came just 10 days after a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at an Orlando gay nightclub in the nation’s worst mass shooting. On Monday, the Senate failed to advance four gun-control measures.
Wednesday’s protest began when Lewis, a leading figure from the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, delivered a fiery speech and called for Democrats to join him on the floor.
Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville, Tennessee’s only other Democratic congressman, gave a report to WTVF-TV on the protest. An excerpt:
Republicans in charge called a recess and turned off the floor cameras. Democratic lawmakers resorted to social media pictures and live streaming the day-long event.
“This is a very rare moment in the House of Representatives,” said Rep. Jim Cooper (D, Nashville) via Facetime, “I’ll show you what’s going on behind me normally phones are not allowed on the house floor but this is an exception.”
Cooper said he just wants to do his job.
“This is about the laziest congress in history and we should do our job which is to vote,” he said, “and whether you vote for or against these measures you should go on record and vote.”