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Rep. John Lewis on the Need for Congress to Act Now on Gun Violence and Mass Shootings

June 22, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON Congressman John Lewis (GA) spoke on the House Floor this morning to condemn Congressional inaction to mass shootings and gun violence in the United States.  He made this statement and led a sit-in against the inaction of Congress on this crisis of violence:

“On occasion, Mr. Speaker, I have had what I call an executive session with myself.  

For months, even for years, through several sessions of Congress, I wondered what will bring this body to take action.  What will 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 and 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 to the blood of the innocent and the concerns 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 common-sense improvements 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 headlights, and not taillights.  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 becoming more and more frequent.  Mr. Speaker, this is a fact.  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 common-sense gun control legislation to the House Floor.  Give us a vote!  Let us vote!  We came here to do our jobs!  We came here to work!  The American people are demanding 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 out 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.  And 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."