Relatives of gun violence victims demanded gun law reforms and staged a sit-in Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol Rotunda, where six participants were arrested.
Protesters urging members of Congress to vote on gun legislation held oversized photographs of their loved ones and chanted, “No bill, no breaks."
Police arrested six of the eight protesters on charges of demonstrating in an unauthorized area.
Of the eight protesters, four lost a child to gun violence. Two lost their mothers. Another survived the Tucson shooting that injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. And another said she had lost 24 loved ones to shootings.
Protester Eddie Weingart said he saw his mom get shot and killed by his stepfather in Desert Springs, California, when he was 2 years old. He held a sign that said, "My mom is not a political stunt." Each protester held a similar sign, Weingart said the signs were directed at House Speaker Paul Ryan and other politicians who called House Democrats' sit-in on the House floor in June a political stunt.
“It was no political stunt, and the mention that it was is completely appalling,” Weingart said. “It’s a slap in the face to me and countless other survivors of gun violence in this country.”
Nardyne Jefferies also participated in the demonstration. Her 16-year-old daughter, Brishell Jones, was shot and killed in D.C., on South Capitol Street, in 2010. Brishell was standing on a corner after attending a funeral for a friend when she was shot.
“This is not a publicity stunt," Jeffries said. "This is real-life trauma that I have to live with every day.”
The mother said she felt “disgusted” by politicians she feels do not care about recurring gun violence.
“This is not the America that I grew up in,” Jefferies said. “This is not the America that my father fought several wars for.”
“If we’re supposed to protect this country, shouldn’t we protect it from each other?” she said.
Weingart said stopping gun violence is as important to him “as the water I need to drink, the air I need to breathe.” He said despite the difficulties, he holds on to optimism.
“I do believe that one day, this is going to change,” he said. “People have had enough.”
Outside the Capitol building, dozens of families marched and called for action as Congress returned from the July 4 recess. Members of a local group called D.C. Moms and Dads for Rational Gun Safety said they want action.
"Our kids' safety is at stake and the glimmer of hope was the sit-in that the House Democrats did," Laura Brown said. "I thought something is going to happen, and this is the time. We all need to get there now, and we need to get something passed."
Ryan said he will allow a vote on a single gun bill to be proposed in the House. It's a measure that would allow the Attorney General to delay the sale of a gun to a suspected terrorist for three days. It's similar to a Senate measure backed by the National Rifle Association. Some Democrats say it's not real gun control and will oppose it.