I am conflicted about the sit in. I was up all night cheering them on. I was impressed with the effort, caught up in the disobedience of it, the spirit of making trouble for justice. The thought of them championing this bill with civil rights tactics and “we shall overcome” seems off, but if I could check with anyone about whether that is appropriate, it would be Rep. John Lewis, and it was his idea.
The bill being held up does not have just roots, it legitimizes and strengthens the idea of terrorist lists, which have dubious criteria. They focus on Muslim travelers and serve to inconvenience and endanger people based heavily on race, religion and family situation. Using this list as a criteria for excluding people from gun ownership sounds dangerous, unfair, and like it wouldn’t address the bulk of gun violence, or even just the bulk of mass shootings. It reinforces the image of violence in the as external, of Muslim Americans as external, and gun ownership as a white American right. This is not progress, it actually sounds like a republican counter offer to a real gun control bill. That may in fact be its best feature.
Sadly I do not usually think of democratic lawmakers as exceptional strategists, but this may be a really clever bit of strategy playing out. This could put republicans in a position of arguing against either terrorist watch lists, or unrestricted gun ownership. The sit in also draws a huge amount of attention to the vote, so it will be easy to know who was on what side, there will be coverage to refer to and no one can claim to have stayed neutral.
I hope this is the thinking, and that everyone involved knows what they are doing, not that they are simply parroting the same oppressive, ineffective wartime framing of guns that already saturates this debate. I hope this energy is maintained and applied to more worthy bills.