An unprecedented occupation of the floor of the House of Representatives by Democrats demanding action on various gun control measures continued into its second day on Thursday before Speaker Paul Ryan called a recess until July 5. Democratic members of Congress vowed to continue their efforts after the break.
During the sometimes chaotic sit-in, Ryan ordered C-Span to turn off its cameras, forcing the broadcaster to host live feeds from members’ cell phones, and Democrats thwarted an attempt by Republicans to shut down the sit-in with a series of late-night votes. According to CNN, when Capitol police asked Democrats to clear the floor for a daily security sweep, Nancy Pelosi replied, “That’s not going to happen,” and continued speaking.
Other highlights included Representative Louie Gohmert interrupting the proceedings to shout “radical Islam!” several times.
The Nation spoke by phone with Representative Alan Grayson, whose district is located near the site of last week’s brutal massacre in Orlando, during the 25th hour of the sit-in.
“This is a very inspirational moment for Democrats,” he said. “We have occupied the House floor, and we don’t plan to allow the House to do its business until the people’s business is done. We’re not going to sit down, we’re not going to shut up. We’re going to keep talking until there’s a vote on what America wants to see resolved.”
Civil-liberties advocates have criticized what most media outlets reported as the bill in question—the “No Fly/No-Buy Act,” which would bar individuals who are listed on the government’s “No-Fly List” or its “Selectee List” from purchasing firearms. At Gawker, Alex Pareene wrote, “The no-fly list is a civil rights disaster by every conceivable standard. It is secret, it disproportionately affects Arab-Americans, it is error-prone, there is no due process or effective recourse for people placed on the list, and it constantly and relentlessly expands.”
Grayson rejected the idea that the sit-in was only in support of the No Fly/No-Buy Act, which, according to The New York Times, would prevent 2,700 US citizens from purchasing firearms. Grayson, who interrupted our interview when it was his turn to speak on the floor and used his time to talk about his proposed assault-weapons ban, said that he and his colleagues were insisting on a vote on both No Fly/No-Buy, and another bill that would strengthen the background-check system and close loopholes that allow people to buy firearms online or at gun shows without a background check.