Watch: The Full Story Behind the House Democrats' Historic Sit-In Over Gun Reform

WASHINGTON D.C. - MARCH 17:  Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) is photographed in his offices in the Canon House office building on March 17, 2009 in Washington, D.C.  The former Big Six leader of the civil rights movement was the architect and keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in 1963.  (Photo by Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images)

Watch: The Full Story Behind the House Democrats' Historic Sit-In Over Gun Reform

Lawmakers channeled civil rights and social media like never before.

Published June 22, 2016

If MLK Jr. and Malcolm X had social media, imagine what they could have done.

Today's sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives brought together a tactic from the past with the technology of today to create a historic moment in Washington.

Feeling frustrated by Republicans voting down four gun control measures and generally refusing to pass any sort of gun legislation, Georgia congressman John Lewis deployed a strategy from his days as a civil rights activist to get Congress's attention. He also used the present day's viral nature of social media to rally the support of citizens as he staged 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 little 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." It is unusual for members to disrupt the functioning of the House to this degree.

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!" Lewis later told NBC News that "sometimes you are moved by history."

If members continue their sit-in as vowed and no compromise is reached, Speaker Paul Ryan has 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. Despite that, C-Span began airing the protest and Paul Ryan got it "blacked out" and off the air.

So now 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's video feed.

House members are also using their social media to lodge their protests using the hashtags #NoBillNoBreak, #NOMORESILENCE and #goodtrouble. It's always inspiring when social media plays a big part in sharing historic moments like this.

Written by Evelyn Diaz

(Photo: Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images)


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