Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights icon who is leading a sit-in on the House floor in an effort to force a vote on gun control, thinks Republicans are ignoring the gun violence problem in America.
“We have lost hundreds and thousands of innocent people to gun violence,” Lewis said June 22 on the House floor, while urging fellow Democrats to stand with him at the podium, according to Ebony.
“What has this body done,” Lewis asked House members of responding to gun violence. “Nothing. We have turned a deaf ear to the blood of innocents. We are blind to a crisis. Where is our courage? How many more mothers ... and fathers need to shed tears of grief?”
Lewis and as many as 50 Democrats participating in the sit-in want Republicans to agree to vote on gun control measures, which include expanding background checks and blocking gun purchases by suspected terrorists, before they go on a week-long holiday recess.
Their call for action comes after the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, that claimed the lives of 49 people. It is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
"No bill, no break," Democrats shouted from the House floor.
"Sometimes, you have to make a way out of no way. We have been too quiet for too long," Lewis said at the start of the sit-in, according to NBC News. "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."
"We've been waiting, waiting for a long time, for the leadership to bring a piece of legislation, or maybe more than one piece, to deal with gun violence,” he said. “There are too many people, too many children, babies, teachers, our mothers, our fathers, our sisters and brothers, people going out to dance and have fun, to die because of gun violence."
The sit-in is now reaching the 24-hour mark, and Lewis does not plan to leave unless House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, agrees to a vote.
“@SpeakerRyan, we will not leave without acting for the victims & families of reckless gun violence. #NoBillNoBreak,” Lewis tweeted the morning of June 23.