By Andrea Karshan
While all of Brooklyn’s Democratic Congress Members participated in the Democratic sit-in to demand a vote on the ‘No Fly, No Buy’ bill prohibiting the sale of firearms to those on the FBI’s no-fly list of suspected terrorists, the borough’s lone Republican Congressman – who co-sponsored the bill – decided to sit out.
The 24-hour sit-in, which was held on the House floor in the nation’s Capital Building, ended earlier this afternoon. It both disrupted the business of government in Washington as the federal lawmakers readied for their July 4th break and drew immense media coverage of the bill.
The sit-in came after media outlets reported the FBI investigated Orlando night club shooter Omar Mateen for 10 months beginning in 2013 after the suspect talked at work about his connections with al-Qaeda and dying as a martyr. The FBI refused to say whether Mateen was placed on the no-fly list.
“The House of Representatives has rules and decorum to conduct the people’s business in an organized and respectful manner. Unfortunately, the Democrats’ antics have forced everybody back into their corners and accomplished nothing except generating headlines,” said Congressman Dan Donovan(Southern Brooklyn, Staten Island), who co-sponsored the measure.
“There are procedures for forcing a vote, such as filing a discharge petition. It’s telling that [Republican] Rep. Peter King sponsored the ‘No Fly, No Buy’ legislation – the focal point of the Democrats’ sit-in – back in 2007, when Democrats had a supermajority. He introduced it again in 2009, when Democrats controlled Congress and the White House. They took no action,” he added
But Brooklyn’s Democratic delegation to the house including Hakeem Jeffries and Jerrold Nadler – who also co-sponsored the measure – along withNydia Velazquez and Yvette Clarke all participated in the sit-in.
“All we’re asking is two very minor things. No Fly No Buy and closing the background check loopholes. No Fly No Buy came to the floor again because I heard the Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan – R,WI) spout nonsense a few hours ago. What did he say? He said two things. He said that this was a political stunt. It is not a political stunt. It’s the only way we know how to bring this subject up in a way that might force some action,” said Nadler.
Nadler said Ryan and Republican arguments that the bill deprives people of due process rights has some validity, but those rights would also apply to those restricted from flying because they are on the FBI’s watch list.
‘Due-process rights are real and they’re important and they’re vital, but they’re no more real and vital for someone who wants to buy a gun than for someone who wants to get on an airplane. That’s just an excuse, and it shouldn’t prohibit us from taking a vote on this bill. We should have a vote, we should have a discussion if need be by a vote, and not use due-process as an excuse to support mass murder in this country,” said Nadler.
Velázquez said the fact is the American people have had enough of continued gun violence.
“Orlando was a dark reminder that the epidemic of gun violence continues plaguing our nation and that further inaction is morally unacceptable,” said Velazquez. “There are meaningful steps we could take to address these issues. It makes no sense that someone on the ‘Terror Watch List’ who cannot legally fly can purchase a gun. We need a strong ‘no fly, no buy policy.’”
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a veteran of the nation’s civil rights movement from the 1960s, led the sit-in and said when House Democrats come back from the holiday break on July 5 they should be more determined than ever to see the bill passed.
Previous sit-ins were staged in 2008 by the Republicans over an energy proposal and in 1995 by the Democrats over the Republican-passed budget.