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House Democrats Stage Sit-In Seeking Vote On Gun Control Measures

WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — House Democrats staged a sit-down protest Wednesday, seeking a vote on gun control measures following the Orlando nightclub shooting.

Read: House Democrats' Letter To Speaker Paul Ryan

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. It was the worst shooting in modern U.S. history.

"No bill, no break," shouted Democrats, who demanded that Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., keep the House in session through its planned week-long recess next week to debate and vote on gun legislation.

Massachusetts Reps. Joe Kennedy III, Katherine Clark, Jim McGovern, Seth Moulton, Bill Keating, and Mike Capuano are among those taking part in the sit-in.

Clark spoke to WBZ's Jon Keller by phone from the House floor during the demonstration.

"We don't think that the bills will ultimately be successful. But it's about showing that we are not afraid in the Congress to debate these issues and to put ourselves on record on where we stand," Clark said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren also joined the representatives on the House floor Wednesday afternoon.

"We are resolved to stay as long as we are in session this week, because we don't believe that gun violence is going to go on a break for the Fourth of July, and we don't think that we as members should be dismissed by the Speaker of the House until we have a vote on these proposals," Clark added.

In a speech calling gun violence "an epidemic," Rep. Kennedy referenced Massachusetts gun violence victims, including Raekwon Brown, the 17-year-old shot outside a school in Dorchester two weeks ago.

Rep. Kennedy tweeted, "We hold in our hands the power to help end a pain that has struck far too many families."

Rep. Capuano told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 that the House leadership had ordered C-SPAN cameras turned off, as well as microphones, and walked off the floor.

"We're simply closing down the ordinary business of the house until we can get a vote on this issue," said Capuano. "That's the hope, that's the goal."

Keating tweeted a photo of himself sitting on the house floor with the other representatives.

Rep. John Larson of Connecticut said lawmakers were "calling for the simple dignity of a vote."

"Our country cannot afford to stand by while this Congress continues to be paralyzed by politics," he added.

Larson and other Democrats cited polls showing broad public support for expanding background checks for firearms purchases and blocking suspected terrorists from buying guns.

"Rise up Democrats, rise up Americans," Larson said. "We will occupy this chamber."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the House needs to act on gun legislation, rather than continually hold moments of silence in memory of victims of gun violence.

"We truly believe that if there were a vote that we would win the vote, because 85 to 90 percent of the American people ... support responsible background checks legislation, which is bipartisan, and the 'no-fly, no-buy' legislation, which is bipartisan," Pelosi said.

Democrats Sit-In
House Democrats, including Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark, stage a sit-in hoping for a gun control vote. (Image Credit: David Cicilline)

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said, "We will not be shut up. We will not be shut down."

The House was not in session when the Democrats held the demonstration.

By 3 p.m., the protest was still going on with the Republican leadership making no attempt to stop it. As the protest continued, lawmakers briefly sang "We Shall Not Be Moved."

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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