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US House Democrats stage protest to demand gun control bill

Reuters , Wednesday 22 Jun 2016
This photo provided by Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine shows Democrat members of Congress, including, front row, from left, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., participate in sit-down protest seeking a a vote on gun control measures, Wednesday, June 22, 2016, on the floor of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington (Photo: AP)
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Several dozen U.S. House Democrats pushing for action on gun control protested on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, chanting "no bill, no break!" and demanding that the chamber put off an upcoming recess until legislation is debated.

The protest was the latest bold move by Democrats to persuade the Republican majority in Congress to consider gun control legislation in response to last week's mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, which was the deadliest in modern U.S. history.

The Democrats stood or sat at the front of the chamber, where such disruptive tactics are relatively rare. When the presiding House officer, Republican Representative Ted Poe, entered the chamber, he declared the House not in order. After banging the gavel several times in an attempt to clear the protesters, he announced the chamber would be in recess and left.

The Democrats remained on the House floor, calling for action before a vacation recess scheduled to start at the end of the week and run through July 5.

Shortly before that, Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, likened the push for gun control action to the civil rights movement of the 1960s when sit-ins and other civil disobedience prodded Washington to act on new protections for African-Americans.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for the sit-in, saying, "This is what real leadership looks like."

House Democrats frustrated by inaction on guns have staged several actions on the House floor in recent days. They have interrupted a moment of silence in honor of the Orlando victims and unsuccessfully seeking recognition to bring up bills on expanding background checks and preventing people on "no-fly" and other surveillance lists from buying guns.

Democrats in the Senate last week took control of that chamber for nearly 15 straight hours as they called for gun control legislation.

House Republicans have declined to advance gun control legislation and House Speaker Paul Ryan said earlier on Wednesday he was "waiting to see what the Senate does" before discussing the topic.

On Monday, the Senate failed to advance four gun measures, including one that would have prohibited gun sales to people on a broad range of government watch lists.

Senators from both parties now are pushing for a compromise. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would schedule a vote on the measure by fellow Republican Senator Susan Collins that would prevent about 109,000 people on "no-fly" and other surveillance lists from purchasing guns.

House Republicans say they see the problem differently. "We don't view the fact that someone becomes radicalized and decides to kill a bunch of Americans ... as a gun problem," Representative John Fleming of Louisiana said on Wednesday. "We view that as a terrorist problem."

The Orlando gunman, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to Islamic State during the June 12 rampage in which he killed 49 people and wounded 53 with an assault rifle and pistol at a gay nightclub before being fatally shot by police.

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