U.S. Rep. David Price of Chapel Hill relentlessly chanted “No bill, no break” alongside his fellow Democrats as they demanded a vote on gun control legislation.
All three of North Carolina’s U.S. House Democrats – Price, Alma Adams and G.K. Butterfield – participated in the almost 26-hour sit-in on the House floor, calling for the Republican leadership to allow a vote on preventing suspected terrorists from buying guns.
“Extraordinary situations call for extraordinary measures,” Price said.
About 170 Democrats refused to let House Speaker Paul Ryan proceed with usual business at 10 p.m.
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“He clearly was not in control of the chamber because we didn’t allow him to be,” said Adams, of Mecklenburg County.
Several North Carolina lawmakers were among the Republicans who responded by accusing Democrats of launching a publicity stunt and of attempting to violate the Second Amendment or other constitutional rights.
Because of the Senate’s refusal to pass similar gun-control legislation on Monday, some Republicans said it would be pointless for the House to vote on legislation that already had been defeated.
“I agree with Speaker Ryan that this is nothing more than a publicity stunt,” said U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Banner Elk Republican, in a statement. “We are not going to bring up a bill, which was already defeated in the Senate, that violates the Fifth Amendment and takes away a citizen’s due process rights.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, a Greensboro Republican, went a step further in a tweet contrasting the demonstration to the 1960 sit-ins protesting segregation at Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro.
“Calling this a sit-in is a disgrace to Woolworth’s,” Walker tweeted. “They sat-in for rights. Dems are ‘sitting-in’ to strip them away.”
This month’s mass shooting in Orlando has inspired passionate discussion of gun violence in the United States. At least two of the victims at Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub had ties to North Carolina.
When Price spoke at 11:23 p.m., he paid tribute to Pulse victims Shane Tomlinson, an East Carolina University graduate, and Tevin Crosby, a native of Statesville.
Butterfield said he is upset with limited progress in Congress to address gun violence.
“This frustration has just been building now for many years, and what really compounds the frustration is that when we come back to the floor, we do a 30-second moment of silence,” Butterfield said. “Everyone stands up, and after the 30 seconds expire, we go on about our business.”
Adams, Butterfield and Price said they left the sit-in around 4 a.m. after the House adjourned at 3 a.m. Republicans voted to reconvene on July 5. A few dozen Democrats pulled all-nighters, according to Butterfield. The sit-in ended about 1 p.m. Thursday.
The “no-fly-no-buy” effort extended to North Carolina Thursday as state Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Raleigh Democrat, sent a letter to Senate leader Phil Berger. Chaudhuri asked Republican leadership to “introduce and support legislation that prevents individuals on the Terrorist Watchlist from purchasing firearms in our State.”
Chaudhuri’s suggestion leaves questions unanswered about how North Carolina would gain access to federal watch lists. With the legislature’s short session winding down and with Republicans dominating the House and Senate, Chaudhuri said he merely hopes to generate discussion between the two parties about the issue.
“We welcome them to put some thought into this and propose a solution and will be happy to review the details once they have them,” Berger, an Eden Republican, said in a statement.