Congressmember Lois Capps joined in the rambunctious sit-in staged by congressional Democrats in the House of Representatives protesting the refusal by Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to allow a vote on a gun control measure that would limit sales of firearms to individuals placed on the terrorist watch “no-fly” list. Capps participated in the sit-in from about noon Wednesday to 4 a.m. the next morning.
Capps joined in with her fellow Democrats’ chant of “Shame, Shame, Shame,” and in singing “We Shall Over Come.” Capps delivered a brief statement from the House floor, speaking in support of families from “Orlando to Isla Vista, and everywhere in-between who have lost a loved one to gun violence.” Capps, who noted that 90 people are killed a day by gun violence, argued that people deemed too dangerous by federal authorities to board an airplane are likely too dangerous to buy firearms as well. Capps — who texted and tweeted the event — also carried with her a photo of Richard and Chris Martinez, the latter being one of the UCSB students slaughtered in the Isla Vista mayhem two years ago and the former being his father.
The elder Martinez has since taken up the cause of gun control with a sustained vengeance. In the wake of the Orlando massacre — in which the gunmen had been placed on the no-fly list until federal investigators cleared him of being affiliated with ISIS and other terrorist organizations — Democrats have increased their demand for some sort of gun control response to a new combative pitch. Given the Democrats lack a majority in either house, they remain politically at the mercy of Republican leadership or defectors from the GOP. Speaker Ryan pulled the plug on Congress in response to the Democrats call for action, declaring Congress in recess. Congress resumes on July 5, at which point the Democrats will continue to press on the issue. Ryan has denounced the action as political stunt linked to the presidential contest between Democrat Hilary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, whose positions on the second amendment are diametrically opposed.
Democrats controlled “the message” for most of yesterday, their action even outshouting Trump in the 24-hour news cycle. Only late Wednesday night did the Republicans find some traction, denouncing a fundraising letter mailed out by the Democratic Congressional Central Committee, seeking to take financial advantage of the sit-in and publicity generated for gun control issues. Capps has not seen that letter, but Democratic Party operatives contend the fundraising element is part and parcel of a broader political strategy to maintain attention and pressure on the issue. To the extent candidates now running for Congress can benefit, they say, so much the better.