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 of the last living icons
of civil disobedience during the civil rights movement. "There comes
a 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 is
the 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,
 it 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, #NOMORESILENCE
 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.