A group of House Democrats, which included civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, staged an old school sit-in on the House floor on Wednesday, protesting the failure of gun control measures to pass in the U.S. Senate.
Sit-ins were often staged during the 60s to protest racial discrimination at lunch counters and other public places. Woolworth’s Dept. Store was one of many establishments in the South that did not serve African American diners.
Kentucky's Rep. John Yarmuth, and Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut were also among the roughly 60 protestors who sat down cross-legged in the middle of the floor Wednesday, pushing for gun control votes.
Armed with new and intense outrage from the June 12 massacre at a gay club in Orlando by an ISIS sympathizer, the House passed four measures to enforce stricter gun control last week.
According to a federal law enforcement officer, Omar Mateen used a Sig Sauer MCX rifle to murder and maim more than 100 people. He used a “weapon of war,” designed to killed as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Records show he legally purchased a Glock 17 handgun, which he also carried during the attack.
The Orlando shooting is the deadliest mass shooting in U. S. history. Over the past five years, legislators have introduced more than 100 gun control measures in Congress. But despite numerous mass shootings in the country since 2011, none of them have passed into law, and few have made it to the House or Senate floor for a vote.
"We can no longer wait," Lewis said from the House floor. "We can no longer be patient. So today, we come to the well of the House to dramatize the need for action. Not next month, not next year, but now -- today. Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes you have to make a way out of no way."
"We have been too quiet for too long," he added. "There comes a time when you have to say something. You have to make a little noise. You have to move your feet. This is the time."
Members took turns speaker passionately at the podium, chanting "No bill, no break" after each speech and using the trending hashtag #NoBillNoBreak on Twitter to publicize their efforts.
Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton threw her support behind the sit-in Wednesday, praising the lawmakers' protest as "real leadership."
President Obama thanked Rep. Lewis for his actions in a tweet Wednesday afternoon.
Other Democratic lawmakers from the Senate, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and former presidential candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, are also throwing their weight behind the floor sit-in.
At around 1:41PM EST, Sen. Sanders had made his way to the House floor to participate in the Democrats' sit-in. It was unclear if he would give remarks. Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who led a filibuster in the Senate last week leading to the votes on gun measures, also walked in to the House chamber to show his support.
His fellow Connecticut senator, Richard Blumenthal, who also joined the sit-in, told a reporter:
"This is the beginning of something much bigger, and it will shake the business as usual approach of the United States Congress - there's no more business as usual," Blumenthal told CBS in an interview. "The nation has reached at tipping point, Orlando sent a signal that enough is enough, and that's what they're saying."
Meanwhile, Republicans have vowed they would continue to get things done and would not allow the protestors to stop them.