WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., joined Democrats in the House on Wednesday in a sit-in to demand action that Congress take action to pass stricter gun control measures.
Using the motto “no bill, no break,” Democrats seized the floor of the House, refusing to give Republicans control until a vote is taken on the issue before the upcoming weeklong break.
The protest began about 11:30 a.m. and continued Wednesday afternoon, as nearly 100 Democrats led by Georgia Rep. John Lewis demanded 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, that killed 49 people in a gay nightclub.
“Today, I joined Representative John Lewis and members of the House of Representatives on the House floor calling for votes to block terrorists from buying guns and to establish background checks like we have in Colorado that help keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” Bennet said in a statement on Facebook. “Despite tragedies in Colorado and across the country, Congress remains paralyzed. #NoBillNoBreak.”
Bennet had expressed frustration earlier this week with the lack of action on gun control following the Senate’s vote against four gun-related amendments.
“In Colorado and across the country, we’ve seen the breaking news of tragic mass shootings far too many times. And somehow, Congress remains paralyzed,” Bennet said in a statement on Monday. “Today’s vote is another sad example. Congress could not take commonsense steps to block terrorists from buying guns or to establish background checks like we have in Colorado that help keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”
In response to recent efforts for new gun control measures, including Wednesday’s sit-in, Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said that while he supports efforts to prevent illegal gun trafficking to foreign nations, he does not support calls for tighter gun control laws.
“Further restricting access to firearms for law-abiding American citizens will not prevent these types of attacks from happening,” Tipton said. “The focus instead must be on how we can strengthen national security and counterterrorism efforts to identify and stop warped and radicalized individuals with terrorist ties who are set on killing innocent Americans. I stand behind our Constitution and the fundamental rights the Second Amendment affords all Americans.”
Sen. Cory Gardner’s office did not offer a comment on the senator’s reaction to the sit-in, but provided a statement from earlier this week in relation to Gardner’s vote in favor of an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that encourages greater communication and coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement. The amendment would not further restrict gun ownership.
“We need to work together to put forth policies designed to target and combat the true enemies at hand – ISIS and homegrown terrorism – and not those who lawfully purchase firearms and exercise their Constitutionally-protected rights,” Gardner said in the statement.
Kate Magill is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.