Commentary

Democrats’ Sit-In Protest Counterproductive to Their Cause

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Last Wednesday night, the Democrats of Congress staged a “sit-in” protest on the floor of the House. Approximately 188 representatives and 34 senators participated in the protest. Over what? Gun control.

The rebellion, led by Georgia Congressman John Lewis, is due to the Senate not approving the prevention of those on a terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms, meaning the bill was never brought to the House for a vote. This issue has completely divided Congress and the American people, as shown by the floor protest and the outcries by many on both sides of the aisle. And of course, Democrats have taken to social media and are eloquently hashtagging this event #nobillnobreak.

In listening to the Democrats’ rhetoric regarding this protest, I am disappointed at how little they care about getting the facts right. For example, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) made accusations toward voting on gun control by referencing the awful Sandy Hook shooting that occurred in December 2012. No amount of restrictive gun control would have prevented the Sandy Hook shooter from stealing the weapon from his mother, killing her and committing that atrocious act.

At the same time, Rep. Lewis is insisting Congress has done nothing about guns and these tragedies. It seems he has ignored the action that has been occurring in both the House and the Senate for the past few days. Last week, the Senate rejected two proposals on restricting firearms to those on the terrorist watch list. Maine Senator Susan Collins is currently leading a bi-partisan group of legislators to come up with middle ground on stopping potential terrorists from legally accessing weapons.

Texas Senator John Coryn also proposed legislation on Monday night that didn’t take off. His refined legislation would have notified the Department of Justice had someone on one of these lists purchased or attempted to purchase a firearm. In addition, a similar bill supported by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Peter King (D-NY) was also unable to secure the necessary votes. It’s not that Congress isn’t doing something – I would argue Congress has been very busy this last week – it has just been a matter of agreeing on what, if any, legislation is best for America.

The shooting that occurred in Orlando was a tragedy, as fourty-nine people lost their lives who shouldn’t have. But legislators need to understand that the knee-jerk reaction of wanting more restrictive gun laws are not the answer. More gun restrictions unfortunately won’t stop a terrorist from committing horrific crimes against Americans or other innocent people. History has already shown us that time and time again.

The instinct to protect American lives is one I would not argue against, but I would argue the Democrats energy is being driven in the wrong direction.

A gun ban for those on the terrorist watch list could prevent dangerous people from accessing weapons, but it also strips people of their right to due process. Under the U.S. Constitution, the right to due process is guaranteed to “all persons,” not just American citizens. This right should not be taken lightly by passing a rash bill to provide constituents with a false sense of security.

I just graduated from Bates last month, and ironically, Rep. John Lewis gave the commencement address. He gave a riveting speech, and encouraged the class of 2016 to get into “good trouble.”

Good trouble infers getting out into the world and making a difference, and not being afraid to shake things up. I applaud the idea, and I also admire the passion and commitment Rep. John Lewis has shown to making a difference. But in this case, I do not believe his methods and reasoning are just.

With votes and topics as important as this, isn’t this the time to ignore party lines and work together? If Democrats were truly determined to pass gun-control legislation, shouldn’t they be talking to their Republican counterparts? Shouldn’t they be debating and explaining why they believe this legislation would make a difference?

Nothing happens when you just sit and pout.

About Lauren Stimpert

Lauren is a senior at Bates College. She currently serves as the Vice President of the Bates College Republicans as well as the Secretary for the Maine Federation of College Republicans. She is a New Hampshire native and self-identified political junkie.

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