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Congressional Democrats are staging an old fashioned sit in to force a vote of gun control measures. They’re actually sitting on the floor in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building.

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What are they hoping to accomplish? Well. besides setting themselves up for surly-faced selfies, these upstanding politicians are sitting on their backsides in an effort to force a vote on gun control measures.

They’re hoping to capitalize on the momentum gun control measures are seeing in the wake of the shooting in Orlando last week.

“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,” their collective letter to Speaker Ryan begins. “We urge you to lead the House into action and work with both sides of the aisle to pass commonsense solutions to keep American children and families safe.”

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The letter then continues to speak in broad terms about keeping families safe, and relies on unsupported statisitcs that attempt to prop up their actions.

So what is Congress waiting for? That’s a question their open letter actually asks. As it turns out, the answer is reasonably complicated. The Senate attempted to ramrod through some gun control legislation last week, but no one could decide on which way to vote.

Senators on both sides of the isle were conflicted about the particulars, and–even with all of the morbid attention to gun violence–they couldn’t agree on anything. The measures died.

What’s the goal of the sit-in?

That part is clear enough. The Democrats want something to vote on. “We urge you [The Speaker] to keep the House in session until we have robust debate and votes on expanding background checks and banning the sale of firearms to suspected terrorists.”

Or what, exactly?

“Until then, we are resolved and committed to speaking out for victims, survivors, and families at home who deserve a vote. We are prepared to continue standing on the House floor whenever the House is in session to assist you in bringing these bills to a vote.”

And until then, they’re going to sit.

Dear Mr. Speaker:

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. We urge you to lead the House into action and work with both sides of the aisle to pass commonsense solutions to keep American children and families safe.

There is broad agreement among Americans – greater than 90 percent by some measures – that expanding background checks for firearms purchases is a reasonable measure for this Congress to pass. An overwhelming majority also agree that we should enact safety measures that keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists.

The question before us is, what is this Congress waiting for?

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Over the last 12 years, gun-related crimes claimed more American lives than AIDS, war, and illegal drug overdoses combined. Since Newtown, tens of thousands of lives have been lost to this deadly crisis. The number of bills that have been debated and passed by this Congress to prevent such deaths is zero.

Together we represent families who are worried and frustrated – millions of Americans who are fed up with the inaction in Congress. There is no doubt that our path to solutions will be arduous, but we have to agree that inaction can no longer be a choice that this Congress makes. We cannot enact solutions for families at home if the Speaker will not even allow a debate.

Therefore, we stand with thousands of brokenhearted families who have not been served by this Congress, and millions more who are counting on us to find the moral courage to do the right thing. We stand together in our refusal to sit by while this Congress abdicates its fundamental responsibility to protect American families from harm. We urge you to keep the House in session until we have robust debate and votes on expanding background checks and banning the sale of firearms to suspected terrorists.

Until then, we are resolved and committed to speaking out for victims, survivors, and families at home who deserve a vote. We are prepared to continue standing on the House floor whenever the House is in session to assist you in bringing these bills to a vote.

Sincerely,

Reps. Katherine Clark, Gregory W. Meeks, John B. Larson, Robin Kelly, John Yarmuth, Chellie Pingree, Stacey Plaskett, Michael E. Capuano, Rosa DeLauro, David Cicilline, Kathy Castor, Bonnie Watson-Coleman, and Mark B. Cohen.