Almost 26 hours later, House Democrats end gun control sit-in

Charles Bolden, staff assistant of Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., holds a poster with pictures of gun violence victims from Chicago as he walks toward the House Chamber on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Charles Bolden, staff assistant of Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., holds a poster with pictures of gun violence victims from Chicago as he walks toward the House Chamber on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Democrats have ended their almost 26-hour-long sit-in to push for gun control legislation, pledging on Thursday afternoon to continue their fight once Congress returns from the July Fourth recess.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., ended the daylong protest surrounded by his Democratic colleagues, with the civil rights leader proclaiming that this "is a struggle, but we're going to win this struggle."

He pledged to come back on July 5th after the congressional recess "more determined than ever before" to push for reforms in the wake of yet another mass shooting last week at an Orlando gay nightclub.

Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents California's 28th district, told KPCC earlier Thursday that it was "powerful" to be a part of the sit-in, particularly with Lewis.

"I was proud to be there," he said. "I wish it wasn't necessary, but I thought after Newtown that Congress wouldn't need any more motivation. We wouldn't hide anymore after seeing the death of those beautiful young kids. But it's gone on and on, every day, every month, a new egregious shooting." 

The sit-in began before noon on Wednesday, when House Democrats took to the floor. Chanting "No Bill, No Break" and waving posters with the names of victims of gun violence, the Democrats vowed to allow no House business to happen until there were votes on two gun control measures.

Schiff, who stayed on the House floor until just after 3:30 a.m. Thursday, said the Democrats' move was "the remedy we have had to resort to" in the absence of a filibuster mechanism in the House.

"The majority controls everything," he said. "In the case of the gun issue it's meant that they haven't permitted votes on even commonsense gun measures. They don't want their members to have to make difficult votes." 

A total of 168 House Democrats, out of 188 total, joined at least part of the sit-in, according to the AP. A number of senators joined them on the floor.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. remained resolute on Thursday morning against their calls, hours after he adjourned the House for the July Fourth recess after passing a Zika funding bill in the middle of the night. 

Ryan had referred to the sit-in as a "publicity stunt," but Schiff said it had already made a difference in the legislative landscape around gun control. 

"It has certainly captured the attention of the American people," he said. "I think it’s exposed that the GOP leadership is unwilling to have votes and be accountable on this issue, that they’re effectively running away from it." 

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