Wasserman Schultz: House Democrats will continue protest today on gun laws
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Last Wednesday, House Democrats took to the floor of the House to stand in solidarity with millions of Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. But this time, it was different. We didn't just stand to offer meaningful thoughts and hopeful prayers — we staged a 24-hour sit-in to demand a vote on common-sense gun laws.
In the words of voting and civil rights heroine Fannie Lou Hammer, we are "sick and tired of being sick and tired."
Tired of trying to put into words the reason why this happened again, and why we failed to prevent it.
Tired of observing a moment of silence and stopping there, as if stillness and silence are the only powers at our command against the epidemic of gun violence.
Tired of the hurt, which aches in a place deeper than flesh and blood and bone.
Tired in our souls because one mass slaughter is already too much to bear, and yet we have suffered this hurt as a nation again and again.
So today, House Democrats are continuing our protest outside the halls of Congress and beyond the Beltway bubble. We collectively proclaim today a National Day of Action, and demand a vote on common-sense gun legislation.
During the sit-in, I read an open letter to Congress from Gabby Giffords. Five years ago, she and her congressional staff were meeting with constituents — one of the most essential duties of any public servant — when a gunman opened fire. In the tragedy that followed, six people lost their lives, including a 9-year-old girl, a federal court judge and one of Gabby's staffers. Gabby narrowly survived, having suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
In her letter, she called on Congress to finally act and reminded us that victims of gun violence represent every thread of diversity in our nation: from big cities and small towns; from every race, ethnicity and nationality; from every profession and sexual orientation; and certainly every rung of our socioeconomic ladder.
And, she reminded us that we were in the People's House — a place where our constituents send us every two years so that we can improve our society, and make our nation a better and safer place, with legislation like "No Fly, No Buy" and universal background checks.
Instead of giving us votes on these policies and allowing the House to work its will, Speaker Paul Ryan and the House GOP leadership made the cowardly decision to adjourn the House of Representatives early — opting to run instead of work with Democrats to find a solution to this national epidemic.
The speaker, revealing just how out of touch the majority is, called our sit-in a "publicity stunt." For the families of victims of gun violence like Jean Carlos Mendez Perez and Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon in Orlando; Anne Marie Murphy in Newtown; Christina Taylor-Green in Tucson; and the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston, this was no stunt.
Those victims and countless others have all shown the great courage that Gabby implored us to use in her letter, and it is my deepest hope that my Republicans colleagues find that courage before we return to Washington on July 5.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Weston, represents Florida's 20th district in the U.S. House of Representatives and is chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.