By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

House Democrats, led by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, center, occupy the floor of the chamber Wednesday to demand a vote on gun control. (Rep. John Yarmouth / Twitter)

About 40 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday staged a sit-in to demand action on gun control in the wake of the Orlando shooting, occupying the chamber floor and chanting, “No bill, no break!”

Led by Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) and James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Democrats crowded in front of the speaker’s podium, some on chairs in the front row and others sitting on the floor, to try to force a vote on gun control. House Republicans reportedly shut off cameras as the protest began, but images of the occupation percolated throughout social media networks. The cameras were later turned back on.

Lewis announced plans for a sit-in earlier Wednesday. “We have lost hundreds and thousands of innocent people to gun violence—tiny little children, babies, students and teachers, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, friends and neighbors—and what has this body done?” Lewis said from the chamber floor Wednesday morning. “Mr. Speaker, nothing. Not one thing.”

Members also tracked their sit-in on social media with the hashtags #NoBillNoBreak, #NoMoreSilence, and #GoodTrouble.

“Now is the time for us to find a way to dramatize it, to make it real,” Lewis said. “We have to occupy the floor of the House until there is action.”

The protest comes after a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando earlier this month killed 49 people and injured 53. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Tuesday unveiled bipartisan legislation that would prohibit gun sales to people on two terrorist watch lists, including the contentious No Fly list, among other provisions.

On Monday night, the U.S. Senate failed to pass four gun control measures, including two that would have expanded background checks and prohibited gun sales to people on the watch list.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who introduced those amendments, praised the sit-in on Twitter.

“Just watched House Republicans shut down House as @HouseDemocrats began to sit down on floor to say #NoBillNoBreak. Amazing,” he wrote.

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