PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — House Democrats seized control of the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday – demanding that the Republican majority make a move on gun control.
In the passionate plea, lawmakers staged a sit-in – many literally sitting on the floor in protest. House cameras were turned off earlier in the day, forcing the sit-in to be broadcast using Periscope.
Around 10 p.m. the House was called back to order after being in recess for most of the day and the hours-long, unprecedented protest continued with chants of “no bill, no break.”
Lawmakers brought pillows and blankets as the Democratic protest stretched toward midnight. Sen. Elizabeth Warren brought coffee and doughnuts for her House colleagues who were staying awake.
The protest continued through the night and into Thursday morning, lasting more than 23 hours.
A demonstration outside the Capital was organized by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun sense in America. Several hundred protesters stood outside to show solidarity with House Democrats demanding a vote on legislation.
At 3:15 a.m., the House adjourned until after July 4 after majority Republicans pushed through a partisan bill to fight the Zika virus. Republicans moved to adjourn immediately after the Zika vote to shut down the sit-in by Democrats.
“The chair appreciates that members will differ on matters of policy and will seek to express those differences,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said as protesters tried to drown him out with their chants.
Rhode Island’s Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline were present – and Eyewitness News spoke with Rep. Langevin via video chat Wednesday night about the sit-in.
“We are prepared to be here as long as it takes,” he said.
“So many people across this country have been so deeply hurt by gun violence – have lost loved ones,” Cicilline said on the floor.
“Have lost children and always wonder is Congress is going to do anything about it. We showed them today that we have heard them and that we are committed to this fight – and that we are committed to staying here.”
Langevin said there are two primary reforms they are looking for.
The first would require background checks when someone purchases a firearm at a gun show. The second would not allow someone who is on the terror-watch list to get a gun.
“We’re saying we are demanding a vote to close the gun show loophole and also to deprive anyone that on a terrorist no-fly list from buying a weapon,” Langevin said.
Representative Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts was also involved with the protest.
House Speaker Ryan said it is nothing but a publicity stunt.