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Democrats push again for gun control laws with Day of Action

Following their sit-in last week, congressional Democrats stood alongside relatives of gun violence victims on Wednesday.

by Liz Fields
Jun 29 2016, 5:40pm

Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP

Congressional Democrats are proving that not even a House recess will stop them from acting on gun control.

A marathon 25-hour sit-in last week may have failed to accomplish Democrats' desired legislation on firearms before Speaker Paul Ryan adjourned the House early for the July 4 holiday break. But on Wednesday, protest organizers continued to rally for those laws with a Day of Action.

"John Lewis's historic sit-in on the Floor has resonated across the nation, and given fresh energy to Americans who will no longer tolerate the daily tragedy of gun violence in America and are calling for congressional action," read a statement from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who planned to join a sit-in in San Francisco Wednesday.

Related: Gun control sit-in by House Democrats stretches into second day

Lewis, a civil rights icon who led the sit-in, had earlier signed a letter calling on colleagues to maintain pressure on Republicans to enact gun control legislation that began on the House floor last Wednesday.

"We ask you to join us in a National Day of Action on June 29, 2016," the letter read. "Whether it is a press conference, roundtable, or telephone town hall, we encourage you host an event showing that Democrats in Congress will keep up the fight against gun violence."

Some Congress members held short sit-ins, some attended by family members and gun violence prevention advocates, according to Pelosi's statement.

"Tomorrow, listen to the stories of the families who have lost loved ones to gun violence," Pelosi said. "Listen to the heartbreak that ripples through a community with each gun death. We owe them more than thoughts and prayers and moments of silence. We owe them a vote in the House on commonsense, life-saving legislation that will prevent more families from experiencing their suffering."

Action on gun violence prevention took new urgency after the US's deadliest mass shooting, with 49 people dead and 53 injured on June 12 in Orlando. Senate Democrats introduced two bills — one that would prevent people on a terrorism no-fly list from getting their hands on guns and the other that would expand background checks for potential buyers. Both were voted down.

Senate Democrats joined their colleagues in the lower house last Wednesday as they chanted "No bill, no break" and stayed up through the night. Republicans did not cave to their demands however and managed to push through a spending bill that included a Zika virus funding measure but no legislation on gun control. Ryan officially adjourned the House at around 3:15pm ET, until 5 July.

But Democrats vowed to keep up the fight through the break.

"Your adjournment will not silence our voices," California Rep. Barbara Lee said in a statement Tuesday.

"We intend to use all of the tools at our disposal to force Republicans to bring these two bills — No Fly, No Buy and universal background checks — to the floor," a spokesman for Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said on Wednesday.

Cicilline will join Rep. Jim Langevin at a public sit-in at the Providence Public Safety Complex at 3pm ET Wednesday.