Democratic Representatives Sit-In to Protest Lack of Gun Legislation

Jun 22, 2016

Early Wednesday, John Lewis, a Democratic representative from Georgia, asked his colleagues to join him on the floor of the United States House of Representatives and began to speak.

"For months, even for years, through several sessions of Congress, I wondered what would bring this body to take action, what would finally make Congress do what is right, what is just, what the people of this country have been demanding, and what is long overdue. 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?"

After additional words condemning the lack of action regarding gun violence, the Democrats proceeded to sit down, "calling on the leadership of the House to bring common-sense gun control legislation to the House Floor," in Lewis's words. Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University, says the move may be motivated by more than grief and outrage.

"I think the election year is why we're talking about this issue. Gun rights and the ability for government to prevent people from buying firearms is a long-simmering debate in America. It's always something that's under the radar, if not slightly above the radar, but in an election year, both parties want to talk about it because it energizes voters."

In this Politics Day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Andersen and with Dennis Goldford, professor and chair of the political science department at Drake University and Flansburg Fellow with the Harkin Institute, about gun legislation, money in the 2016 election, and a proposal by one member of Iowa's congressional delegation that would have pushed Harriet Tubman off the $20 bill.