Democratic lawmakers made a public effort to force votes in the House on a gun control matter, staging a sit-in and what House Speaker Paul Ryan called “nothing more than a publicity stunt.”
“The bill they’re talking about was already defeated in the United States Senate. It’s time for them to #StopTheStunt,” said Ryan on social media, according to guns.com.
Even after Republicans formally adjourned for a long-scheduled recess lasting until after the July 4 holiday, a small group of lawmakers remained in the House chamber.
“We’re not taking a break from this effort,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12th) said in this story from the Washington Post.
That quote came a few moments after Pelosi refused the requests of a U.S. Capitol Police officer, who asked the lawmakers to briefly leave the chamber for a routine security sweep.
Later, as Pelosi spoke, officers entered the chamber and led a bomb-sniffing dog through the aisle.
Ryan publicly dubbed the protests a “publicity stunt” on Wednesday night before gaveling in the House around 10 p.m. for an unrelated vote, the story says.
Hours later, the House GOP moved ahead with its package to fund the Zika virus response.
It is unknown if Democrats plan to continue their sit-in until the House formally reconvenes on July 5.
They are seeking votes on two bills that they say would prevent suspected terrorists from buying firearms by using the secret no-fly list as a qualifier for disallowing gun ownership, not much different from bills that were proposed and defeated in the Senate on Monday.
House Republicans have declined to hold votes on gun-control measure since retaking control of the chamber in 2011, only allowing a vote in 2013 to renew an expiring ban on plastic firearms, the story says.
We reported yesterday that a bipartisan group led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-MA) has been promised a vote on a potential compromise measure, and the group was working this week to secure enough support.
The sit-in began at 11:29 a.m. Wednesday and continued through 10 p.m. when Ryan seized the gavel to call a vote on an unrelated measure and shouted, “No bill! No break!” and “Shame!” the story says. Ryan also showed little inclination to meet the Democrat’s demands, saying they were trying to call votes on “a bill that already died” in the Senate.
“People have a guaranteed right to Second Amendment rights,” Ryan said in a CNN interview. “We’re not going to take away a person’s constitutionally guaranteed rights without due process.”
The session formally adjourned shortly after 3 a.m. A handful of House Democrats pressed on overnight and Pelosi said they would be back Thursday morning, according to this Los Angeles Times story.
During the 2008 summer recess, House Republicans held a similar protest against Democrats’ refusal to vote on GOP energy bills they believe would lower skyrocketing gas prices.
The guns.com story notes that during that protest, when Pelosi was Speaker, she ordered the chamber’s microphones silenced and lights extinguished.
“Democrats in the 1960s used sit-ins to expand Constitutional rights,” Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Chairman Alan Gottlieb told guns.com. “But today, they are using a sit-in to restrict those same civil rights.”
“Instead of demanding direct action against dangerous Islamic extremists, they’re distracting the public by pushing gun control measures that they know would not have prevented Orlando, Boston, or San Bernardino,” Gottlieb said. “But it creates the deceptive impression that they are doing something, when in fact, they are doing less than nothing by trying to penalize the wrong people.”