Rep. Jim Costa joined around 170 of his Democratic Party congressional colleagues Wednesday in a unprecedented House chambers marathon sit-in to demand a vote on gun control legislation.
During the protest, Costa joined a parade of his colleagues in addressing the chamber.
“When will enough be enough?” Costa said to cheers from his colleagues. “If now is not the time, then when is the time?”
Costa spoke for close to four minutes, and his comments echoed those he made last week following the shooting at an Orlando, Fla., gay nightclub that killed 49 people.
For his Wednesday speech, however, Costa added a new wrinkle – the Tuesday night shooting death of 20-month-old Rashad Halford Jr.
“Just last night in my district a 20-month-old was shot and killed in front of his parents,” Costa said. “Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer stated that a tragedy occurred in our city last night. Chief Dyer is absolutely right.”
Speaking on CNN, House Speaker Paul Ryan called the protest a “publicity stunt.”
In an interview after speaking, Costa said the issue is pretty straightforward. The Democrats’ protest is an honest call for improving public safety in communities.
“It seems to me if you are on a terrorist watch list you shouldn’t be able to lawfully buy a gun,” he said, adding there are clauses in the proposed legislation that allow people to appeal their inclusion on the terrorist watch list. The legislation has been dubbed “no fly, no buy.”
Costa said that at the very least there should be a “thoughtful discussion” on the issue, followed by an up-or-down vote on the legislation.
“This is not about Second Amendment rights,” he said. “This is about trying to make Americans safer.”