“We were elected to lead, Mr. Speaker. We must be headlights, and not tail lights. We cannot continue to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the reality of mass gun violence in our nation.” — Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) , June 15 2016.
Like their colleagues in the Senate, House Republicans keep refusing to bring gun laws to the floor for a vote. That’s why long-time civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis staged a sit-in with 40 of his Democratic colleagues to demand action. In an electrifying speech that alternates between scathing and heart-wrenching, John Lewis called on “Mr. Speaker” Paul Ryan to at least allow a vote. He and his colleagues then vowed to “occupy” the House until the GOP lets them bring a gun safety bill to the floor.
So what do the House Republicans do? They call a recess and then turned off the cameras in the House chamber to prevent C-SPAN from broadcasting footage of the House Democrats’ anti-gun violence sit-in. As Sean Conners pointed out earlier here at ANX, House Reps don’t have the option of using the filibuster as a negotiation tactic. That’s why it was within bounds for the GOP to ignore their Democratic colleagues, take a lunch break, and then move on to the very important business of dismantling the ACA so under-employed and self-employed Americans can no longer afford treatment for their gunshot wounds.
Paul Ryan and his fell0w reptilian, right-wing cyborgs have no hearts and clearly fear the NRA’s gun lobby more than the 90 percent of Americans who demand an end to our nation’s rampant gun violence and who will hopefully remember this in November.
Watch: Rep. John Lewis calls out “Mr. Speaker” Paul Ryan for failing to address gun violence.
Full transcript of John Lewis’ full-throated “Mr. Speaker” speech.
On occasion, Mr. Speaker, I have what I call an executive session with myself.
For months, even for years, though seven sessions of Congress, I wonder: What would bring this body to take action? What would finally make Congress do what is right, what is just, what the people of this country have been demanding, and what is long overdue.
We have lost hundreds of thousands of innocent people to gun violence. Tiny little children. Babies. Students and teachers. Mothers and Fathers. Sisters and brothers. Daughters and sons. Friends and neighbors.
And what has this body done? Mr. Speaker? Nothing. Not one thing. We have turned deaf ears, we have turned deaf ears to the blood of innocents and the concern of our nation. We are blind to a crisis.
Mr. Speaker? Where is the heart of this body? Where is our soul? Where is our moral leadership? Where is our courage?
Those who work on bipartisan solutions are pushed aside. Those who pursue commonsense improvement are beaten down. Reason is criticized. Obstruction is praised.
Newtown, Aurora, Charleston, Orlando…What is the tipping point? Are we blind? Can we see? How many more mothers? How many more fathers need to shed tears of grief before we do something?
We were elected to lead, Mr. Speaker. We must be head lights and not tail lights. We cannot continue to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the reality of mass gun violence in our nation.
Deadly mass shootings are occurring more and more frequently. Mr. Speaker, this is the fight. It is not an opinion. We must remove the blinders, the time for silence and patience is long gone. We are calling on the leadership of the House to bring commonsense gun control legislation to the House floor.
Give us a vote. Let us vote. We came here to do our job. We came here to work.
The American people demand an action. Do we have the courage? Do we have raw courage to make at least a down payment on ending gun violence in America?
We can no longer wait. 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’ of ‘no way.’ We have been too quiet for too long.
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. The time for silence is over.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Featured image: Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) via YouTube (with alterations).