House Democrats Stage Epic All-Night Sit-In For New Gun Control Measures

In protest of the Senate voting down four gun control proposals Monday, House of Representative Democrats pulled off an all-night sit-in Wednesday night into Thursday. Representative John Lewis of Georgia started the demonstration Wednesday morning, with other Democrats in Congress joining and refusing to budge until something was done about gun control. “We will not leave the floor of this House until this Congress takes action!” Democratic Representative Kathy D. Castor of Florida said, according to The New York Times. Cameras on the floor were shut off when House Republicans called a recess, but photos outside the room show supporters like Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts bringing donuts and pizza, because, you know, protesting politicians have to eat too. If they weren’t fighting such an important issue, this would just be the best slumber party of all time.

Update: After more than 24 hours, the House Democrats ended their sit-in Thursday around 1 p.m. In a press briefing Thursday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan reiterated previous comments that the sit-in is a “publicity stunt,” pointing out that the Dems were fighting for a gun control bill that already failed in the Senate, and refusing to give in to their demands.

Republicans tried to end the sit-in early Thursday morning by calling for the House to take recess until July 5, but the Democrats weren’t having it one bit. According to CNN, about 20 Dems of more than 170 who participated remained on the floor Thursday morning, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who refused to get up for the daily security sweep of the room. The slogan and inevitable hashtag of the protest “No Bill, No Break,” gets the point across perfectly — they aren’t leaving until the House agrees to vote on gun control measures.

Democrats don’t have a majority in the House or Senate, and the Senate voted down proposals from both parties earlier this week calling for universal background checks and bans on selling guns to people on terrorist watch lists. That vote only came about because Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut pulled off a 15-hour filibuster after the Orlando tragedy. With nothing real happening to combat the dangerously high number of shootings in the U.S., House Dems saw no other choice but to stage an attention-grabbing protest. It certainly got the nation’s attention.

The sit-in got much more serious when it lasted through the night, and Pelosi said Thursday morning it would continue “until hell freezes over,” according to CNN. And I wouldn’t doubt this badass crew. Lewis is an experienced protester and civil rights icon who fought to end segregation decades ago, so he won’t just let this go.

It’s possible the group will continue the effort on a smaller scale and restart in full force when the House reconvenes July 5. According to CNN, Lewis said early Thursday morning: “We made some progress. We crossed one bridge, but we have other bridges to cross.”