PHILADELPHIA ― One month before Democrats gathered in Philadelphia for their party’s convention, which would feature a slate of speakers pushing for gun control reform, House Democrats staged a 26-hour sit-in at the U.S. Capitol to demand a vote on gun legislation.
It was a sit-in Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) didn’t think would last for more than three hours.
“I fully expected for everything to be over by 2:00 in the afternoon,” Clyburn said Thursday at a panel hosted by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Why did it go on for 26 hours? Social media.”
Democratic members of Congress streamed the June 22 sit-in on their Facebook and Twitter accounts, so when Republican leaders in the House cut off C-SPAN’s audio and video feed by calling a recess, the network was able to broadcast the footage from those social media platforms.
“People are watching this, people are engaged,” Clyburn said. “We’ve got to do our part.”
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was at the helm of the sit-in, said citizens have “a moral obligation here in America to do what we can to end gun violence.”
“By sitting down, by sitting in, you’re really standing up for something,” Lewis said. “We all have to find a way to get in the way, to get in trouble ― good trouble. Make it plain, make it clear, dramatize the issue. Let’s push it and never, ever give up or give in. We can win this victory. Now is the time for action. We can win it and we must win it.”
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) echoed Lewis’ call for action. Malloy had been in office just under two years when a gunman shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children, at an elementary school in Newtown in December 2012. Visibly upset and frustrated as he remembered that mass shooting, Malloy warned that such tragedies will only continue in communities across the U.S. unless reforms are made.
“Don’t stop. Stand up, sit down. Don’t stop whatever you’re doing,” Malloy said. “Because it’s coming to your neighborhood. Why is it coming to your neighborhood? Because we sell guns of mass destruction. We sell weapons of mass destruction.”