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The 5 Best Moments From The House’s 25 Hour Sit-In For Gun Control

Georgia Rep. John Lewis leads more than 200 Democrats in demanding a vote on measures to expand background checks and block gun purchases by some suspected terrorists in the aftermath of last week’s massacre in Orlando, Florida. CREDIT: AP PHOTO
Georgia Rep. John Lewis leads more than 200 Democrats in demanding a vote on measures to expand background checks and block gun purchases by some suspected terrorists in the aftermath of last week’s massacre in Orlando, Florida. CREDIT: AP PHOTO

Shortly after 1 pm on Thursday, Democratic members of Congress ended their more than 25-hour sit-in on the House floor.

Over the course of the day Wednesday and Thursday, almost 170 members of Congress — including one Republican — held the floor to speak about gun violence. Some shared personal stories, others appealed to their Republican colleagues to expand background checks and to call a vote on a measure to ban people on the “no-fly list” from purchasing firearms.

Here are five memorable moments from the congressmember’s appeals for reform:

1. When Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) displayed a bullet pulled from her body in the 1970s.

Speier took the House floor on Thursday morning, telling her colleagues that she stopped at home on her way to the Capitol to retrieve a piece of evidence she has never displayed publicly.

Speier was shot five times on a remote airstrip in Guyana in November 1978. Her boss, former Rep. Leo J. Ryan, was killed along with four others.

2. When Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) read a letter from former Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Wasserman Schultz was one of many members of Congress, including Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), who read a statement from their former colleague who was shot in the head while meeting constituents in Tucson, Arizona in 2011.

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“I am proud today to give voice, again, to one of our own,” she said, before recounting the moment she read Giffords’ letter of resignation on the House floor more than four years ago.

“There is nowhere I’d rather be right now than with you, on the floor of the people’s House, representing southern Arizona, fighting for our country, and working to make our communities safer,” she read from Gifford’s letter. “Fighting gun violence takes great courage. I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line. I see great courage from many of you today.”

3. When Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) got out of her wheelchair to join the others sitting on the floor.

Duckworth served as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot during the Iraq War and became a double amputee due to severe combat wounds.

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But when several dozen members of Congress sat together on the floor of the chamber, Duckworth got out of her wheelchair to join them.

4. When Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-IL) talked about how her mentally unstable father pointed a gun at her.

While holding the floor on Wednesday, Dingell spoke passionately about her experiences with a domestic abuser in her home.

“I know what it’s like to see a gun pointed at you and wonder if you were going to live,” she said. “And I know what it’s like to hide in a closet and pray to God: ‘Do not let anything happen to me.’”

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She then called for tougher gun regulations to prohibit people convicted of domestic abuse from purchasing a firearm. The chamber erupted in applause after her remarks.

5. When civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis started the sit-in by declaring that “sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary.”

Lewis knows a thing or two about how how to stage a sit-in. The former Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee chairman was arrested in 1960 as he helped lead a nonviolent campaign for civil rights.

He ended the sit-in Thursday afternoon by talking about his experience in jail. “Even in jail I felt free,” he said.

Throughout Wednesday and Thursday, he also invoked some of the language from the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.

“We have been too quiet for too long,” he said at the beginning of the sit-in on Wednesday. “There comes a time when you have to say something. When you have to make a little noise. When you have to move your feet. This is the time. Now is the time to get in the way. The time to act is now. We will be silent no more.”