Democrats are staging an incredible anti-gun protest on the House floor.

After every mass shooting, America holds its breath, wondering if this will be the one — the one that finally forces lawmakers to step up and enact the common-sense gun control measures that the majority of Americans support.

The one that gives us respite from the the tears, the anger, the candlelight vigils, and the mourning of children.


Students at Virginia Tech hold a candlelight vigil for the victims in Orlando. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

It didn't happen after Aurora, when a man opened fire in a crowded movie theater, killing 12. It didn't happen after Newtown, when 20 children aged 6-7 and their teachers were killed in their elementary school. It hasn't happened for any of the thousands of families mourning the loss of a loved one to gun violence in 2016 alone.

After the killings in Orlando in June, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, in which one man killed 49 people and injured 53 more in the span of a few short hours, we held our breaths again, wondering again if things would change.

This time, though, it feels like common-sense gun control measures might actually, finally be within reach.

Days after the massacre, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) staged a filibuster demanding action on gun control. He was joined by more than 30 of his colleagues.

The filibuster lasted 15 hours, and the Senate ultimately agreed to vote on the amendments Murphy was representing.


Sen. Chris Murphy led a 15-hour filibuster on gun control. Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images.

Days later, the Senate voted and rejected both amendments.

Today, House Democrats are staging a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives, demanding action on gun control.

The disruption has already forced the chamber into temporary recess twice, and eventually, C-SPAN cameras were shut off. Democrats began tweeting pictures from the sit-in with the hashtag #NoBillNoBreak.


The "No Bill No Break" campaign is designed to force Republican lawmakers into enacting gun control measures before the chamber takes a weeklong break.


Leading them: Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights leader who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s.


“For months, even for years, through seven sessions of Congress, I wondered, what would bring this body to take action?” Lewis (D-Georgia) said shortly before the sit-in.

"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? Mr. Speaker, not one thing.”


It's unclear if the House Democrats will have any more success than their colleagues in the Senate, but it's a relief to see lawmakers doing anything they can to enact effective gun control measures.

Even President Obama has voiced his support for Rep. Lewis and the protest:

And Rep. Keith Ellison's mom pulled him out of a meeting with an important message about the sit-in:

Ideally, lawmakers represent the will of the people. In reality, however, powerful lobbying forces like the National Rifle Association still hold major sway over many of our representatives.

The fact that the very people we elect to make the laws are resorting to protest tactics just to try to move things forward — after exhausting all their other by-the-books options — shows just how much of a stranglehold the NRA has on Congress.


Lawmakers doing more than just holding their breath is a welcome sight.

Whether the sit-in today will be enough remains to be seen.

But as the parable goes: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world.

It's the only thing that ever has."

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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