They want Congressional leaders to bring up gun legislation for a vote.
Sixth District Congressman John Delaney and Eighth District Representative Chris Van Hollen participated in the sit-in in the House chamber on Wednesday into Thursday which lasted more than 24-hours. They’re supporting two bills: one would prohibit anyone who’s on the FBI’s “No Fly List” from obtaining guns; and another would require universal background checks for gun purchasers.
Representative Delaney criticized the NRA for pressuring Representatives to oppose these bills. “One lobbying organization believes that it could bully and threaten members of the Congress of the United States so that they oppose bipartisan legislation that reflects the will of the people,” he said. “When have so few gotten in the way of the will of the many.”
There have been calls for new gun legislation following the mass shooting at an Orlando, Florida gay night club, where 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded. “We have said that we are tired of repeated moments of silence after these massacres around the country,” said Van Hollen. “Moments of silence may make members feel better, but they don’t change a thing.”
During the time of the sit-in, the House’s Republican leadership adjourned the chamber until after the Independence Day recess. “These Washington Republican members of Congress, they can run out of here in the middle of the night, but they’re not going to able to hide from this issue,” say Van Hollen.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) called the Democrats actions a “publicity stunt.” “Well, I think the Speaker is disrespecting the American public, trivializing a very, very important issue,” Van Hollen reacted.
Delaney said on the House floor that the American people are frightened by recent gun violence in places which they used to deem safe. “And it’s made them angry at their core that they’re Democracy is failing,” he says.
Van Hollen said legislation can be passed to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, and, at the same time, respect Americans’ 2nd-Amendment rights. “No one’s under any illusion that these measures are going to stop all the gun violence. But it shouldn’t be an all or nothing proposition. If we can take common sense steps that prevent some gun deaths, and do not infringe on the 2nd-Amendment, We should do that. And that’s what these measures call for,” he says.
Delaney says Americans want Congress to act to help prevent gun violence. “Democrats, Republicans, agree, by large majorities, that we, their Congress, who’ve they’ve elected, should be doing something on this issue,” he says.
Van Hollen says Democrats will try to bring up these bills again for a vote when Congress returns from its July 4th recess.