Update, 12:40 a.m.:
The House has adjourned until after July 4 after majority Republicans pushed through a partisan bill to deal with the Zika outbreak. Republicans moved to adjourn immediately after the Zika vote to shut down a round-the-clock sit-in by Democrats demanding votes on gun control bills. Democrats denounced the GOP plan as “cowardly” and stayed on the floor to demand votes on bills to strengthen background checks and prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns.
A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed the Democrats’ protest as a “publicity stunt” and said Republicans “have plowed ahead to do what is needed to responsibly address” the Zika crisis.
Rep. Lois Capps, who represents San Luis Obispo County, joined her Democratic colleagues on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday to stage a lengthy, defiant sit-in to force a vote on gun control legislation.
Some held posters with photos of the victims from the June 12 shooting at a gay night club in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people were killed by Omar Mateen. The 29-year-old shooter was able to purchase an AR-15 rifle in the days before the shooting despite the FBI having investigated him for possible links to terrorism.
Capps — who represents California’s 24th Congressional District, which includes Santa Barbara County and parts of Ventura County — posted her involvement in the demonstration on social media.
She and her colleagues used chants and social media hashtags such as #NoBillNoBreak, #NoMoreSilence and #NoFlyNoBuy, the latter referring to a proposal to prevent people listed on the controversial No Fly List from purchasing firearms.
On her Facebook account, Capps posted: “Right now, I am with Rep. John Lewis and my colleagues on the House floor staging a sit in to demand a vote on common-sense gun safety measures. We are fed up with the violence and fear seen across the country. Americans deserve better. Just because we can’t do everything to stop gun violence does not mean we can’t do anything. It is time to act!”
Lewis has served as a Georgia Congressman since 1987 and is recognized as a civil rights leader.
Capps reiterated her appreciation for Lewis and others on her Twitter account.
Capps also reminded followers that a shooting tragedy had recently affected her own district.
In May 2014, Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured 14 others during a shooting rampage in Isla Vista near the UC Santa Barbara campus. Among those killed in the shooting was Christopher Michaels-Martinez, a San Luis Obispo High School graduate.
Capps is retiring from Congress and did not seek re-election this year. Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, a Democrat, will face either businessman Justin Fareed or state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, both Republicans, in November for the open seat.
Wednesday’s House sit-in halted legislative action for nearly 11 hours and appeared likely to continue into Thursday as the protesters turned to Periscope and Facebook Live to broadcast demands for a vote on legislation to restrict gun purchases by suspected terrorists.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., reconvened the House after 10 p.m. for a vote on an unrelated issue, but while the vote went forward, chaos reigned, with Democrats chanting in the well of the House.
Ryan made no effort to clear the demonstrating members of Congress from the House floor, and some Democrats appeared prepared to spend the night in the chamber. Pillows and blankets in preparation for a long night could be seen from the House gallery where spectators were watching the proceedings.
The McClatchy Washington Bureau and The Associated Press contributed to this report.