Georgia congressman John Lewis deployed a strategy
from his days as a civil rights activist and the viral 
nature of social media to stage a dramatic
sit-in Wednesday on the House floor with his
fellow Democrats to force a
vote on gun control. 
"Sometimes you have to do something out of
 the ordinary, sometimes you
 have to make a way out of no way,"
said Lewis, one o the last living icons
of civil disobedience during the civil rights
movement. "There comesa time when you 
have to say something, when you have to make a l
ittle noise, when you have to move your feet.
This is the time. Now isthe time to get in
 the way. The time to act is now. We will 
be silent no more." 
He and roughly 40 fellow House Democrats
vowed "to occupy the
floor of the House until there is action." 
They stood only briefly to recite the Pledge
of Allegiance as a couple
dozen visitors in the gallery
looked on. 
When Lewis finished urging his colleagues
 to "occupy" the floor, the
other Democrats began chanting:
"I'm sick and tired of being sick
and tired!" and "No bill, no break!" 
Democrats Stage Sit-In on House Floor 
for Gun Legislation 2:01
Lewis later told NBC News that
"sometimes you are moved by history." 
It is unusual for members to disrupt the
functioning of the House
to this degree. 
If members do not leave the floor and
no compromise is reached,
 t is largely up to Speaker Paul Ryan to
decide whether to use the
 authority of the House to seek to clear
the floor and/or sanction
members, or to keep the House in
recess and wait out the issue. 
The protest is not being televised
 because the House has not
formally gaveled into session. 
So Rep. Scott Peters, D-California, has been
using the video
 streaming app, Periscope, to share
footage of the sit-in.
C-Span has been broadcasting 
Peters' video feed
House members took to social media
to lodge their protests
using the hashtags #NoBillNoBreak,
 and #goodtrouble. 

I'm on the House floor with @repjohnlewis & Dems staging a sit-in to demand action on commonsense gun legislation 
Outside, House Minority Leader Nancy 
Pelosi made sure the rest of the country 
knew about what was going on inside 
the chamber with a hastily-arranged 
press conference on the Capitol steps . 
"Once again we are fighting an uphill
fight to bring legislation
 to the floor," Pelosi said. "We truly
believe that if there was a
 vote, we would win the vote." 
The merging of old school protest
movement tactics such as
 sit-ins and speeches and new
school social media protests
 helped ensure that the House
Democrats' revolution on gun
policy reform was indeed televised. 
The move led by Lewis, who was jailed
 and repeatedly beaten
 back in the 1960s when he helped
lead the battle for equal rights
for African-Americans, took the
Republican leadership by surprise. 
And it came after Lewis wrote House
Speaker Paul Ryan a letter
demanding that he keep the House in
session instead of going into
recess so there could more debate on
gun control legislation in the
wake of the Orlando massacre. 
"As the worst mass shooting in our
nation's history has underscored,
our country cannot afford to stand by
 while this Congress continues
to be paralyzed by politics," Lewis wrote. 
The House sit-in came on the heels of
a dramatic showdown over
gun policy Monday in the Senate. 
Four gun policy measures failed to pass
the 60-vote threshold to
move forward in the Senate. The votes
came in the wake of the
deadly shooting spree in a gay nightclub
in Orlando — the nation's
worst mass shooting in modern history
— and a subsequent
15-hour filibuster by Senate Democrats
 who demanded action on
 gun control. 
The four amendments — two filed by
 Democratic Sens. Dianne
 Feinstein of California, and Chris
Murphy of Connecticut, and two
other, less restrictive measures filed
by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa,
 and John Cornyn, R-Texas — addressed
 background checks of
prospective gun buyers and the sale
of guns and explosives to
people on terrorist watch lists. 

Sen. Murphy on House Dems sit-in 2:21
Murphy, who led last week's 15-hour
filibuster by Senate Democrats who demanded
 action on gun control, applauded the House's moves. 

So did former President Bill Clinton and
President Barack Obama who in a Tweet
thanked Lewis for "leading on gun violence
where we need it most." Vice President
Joe Biden called Lewis " the keeper of the
nation's conscience at times of challenge
and controversy." 
As the day wore on, the gallery seats
 began to fill as curious
onlookers watched the impassioned
speeches. Care packages
with snacks and letters from supporters began pouring
in for the lawmakers. 
Democratic Senators such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren,
 D-Massachusetts, and Sen. Mark Warner. D-Virginia, joined their
House colleagues as did former members of Congress. The lawmakers,
some of them wiping away tears, shared stories of constituents
 killed as a result of gun violence.