A rally called “National Day of Action on Gun Violence Prevention” was hosted on Wednesday by Illinois House Representatives Robin Kelly, Jan Schakowsky, Bill Foster, Danny Davis and Mike Quigley. In town and joining the rally was House Democrats Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, one of the most-respected members of the U.S. House on either side of the aisle. Similar rallies were held across the country today to continue conveying the urgency for gun reform initiated on the House floor last week.
On June 26, 2014, Congresswoman Robin Kelly decided that standing for a “moment of silence” on the U.S. House floor after another horrific mass shooting in America, wasn’t honoring the victims. In fact, to Rep. Kelly, it wasn’t doing anything. Not for the victims who no longer had a voice, and certainly not for the families of the victims. Rep. Robin Kelly said that day, and has said it thousands of times since: “We stand up. We sit down. We do nothing.” Dozens of her colleagues now refuse to stand for this “moment of silence,” the latest after the horrific Orland mass shooting. The past few weeks have been busy for Rep. Kelly. Last week, on Tuesday afternoon, during a meeting in the office of Congresswoman Katherine Clark, a Democrat from Massachusetts, the idea of a “sit-in” was spawned.
The Congressional members veered their cause for common sense gun legislation from the House Chamber last week, to their home front, in Illinois by holding a rally in Chicago’s Federal Plaza.
“The only way we can win the fight for sensible gun laws is by building a social movement,” Congresswoman Kelly said. “There is a growing national movement for reform, but in order for this progress to deepen, we need to grow and expand the ranks of our soldiers for peace. Only then will our voices be heard loud and clear. This is the only way meaningful change will occur — especially on a national level.”
“No human being in this crowd including me should ever have an assault rifle, and no one should be able to buy a gun if they’ve shown a proclivity for violence,” said protester Michele Kurlander reported ABC 7 News. “The funny thing is, the sit-in was a spontaneous, organic event,” said Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley according to ABC 7 News. “So we have to continue to be create and keep this groundswell of support to continue.”
“I was proud to join my Democratic colleagues in Chicago today for a National Day of Action to demand an end to the killing that has plagued the streets of this city and communities across the country,” said Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. “With Republicans in Congress refusing to allow a vote even on the most bipartisan, most widely supported ideas – preventing those on the terror watch list from buying guns and expanding background checks – House Democrats, led by civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis, held a historic sit-in on the floor of the House to draw attention to the crisis of gun violence. We owe it to those who lost loved ones to gun violence to demand real action – and we will continue to do so. I join in thanking Reps. Kelly and Schakowsky for organizing today’s event, and together we will continue to put pressure on Republicans in Congress to act.”
“Last week, my colleagues and I held an historic 26-hour sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives demanding action to end gun violence,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “We need to turn this moment into a movement. Today, people all across the country are joining in that demand – building support by participating in the National Day of Action to Prevent Gun Violence. We’ve had enough – it is time to keep our children and our communities safe, to disarm hatred, and to end the terror caused by assault weapons. We will continue to sit in, to speak out and to stand up for as long as it takes to move the Republican House leadership to act. Working together, we will succeed.”
Kelly said Democrats needed to vigorously remind their Republican colleagues that the majority of Americans are in favor of common sense gun legislation and that all Americans want to protect their families and communities from random, senseless gun violence.
Also attending the rally were Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Reverend Michael Pfleger, gun control activists and families of local gun violence victims.
In other places, the rallies took place. “Listen to the stories of the families who have lost loved ones to gun violence,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. “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.”