Rep Donald Payne on Democratic Sit-In for Gun Reform

As the Democratic sit-in in the House of Representatives comes to an official end, JCI spoke to Representative Donald Payne.

“I think we have taken the first step in giving our colleagues on the other side of the aisle an opportunity to get out a vote in common sense legislation. This is something I never thought I’d be a part of but I had to step back and realize I was a part of civil disobedience in terms of the House of Representatives. We’ve taken the first step here.

“1/3 of all murders last year in the entire state were in the 10th Congressional district. Camden has the highest murder rate in North America. (JCI was not able to verify this statistic.)  Here in New Jersey we have a grave issue around gun violence but we’re not only talking about mass shootings (which seem gets the most attention) – we live with this every day in our community.

“I commend Cory Booker – we have lived with this issue as public officials for the last ten years. I’m glad that we have jumped into the leadership on this issue.

“I only know one place in NJ where you can buy a gun, that’s on Route 22. (JCI was able to locate additional gun stores in the state, including right here in Jersey City.) We have some of the most stringent gun laws in the country, but the guns are coming in from other states, through gun loopholes, lax gun laws, and they’re brought here by criminals for a profit. We need to close these loopholes.”

When asked about Speaker Ryan shutting the doors and turning off the lights until July 5, effectively closing down the action, Rep Payne replied with “And on July 5th we’ll be back. We have not crossed that bridge yet, we’re just leaving the house now.”

He went on to compare the “common sense gun control movement” to the Civil Rights Movement. “You didn’t live through the Civil Rights Movement. It’s a process. We took one day here. We took one step. It took years to get that legislation passed. The people who are living this fight and leading this movement are not deterred.

“How do I stand by and watch 11 year old girls look at the dresses they want to be buried in? How am I supposed to stop now? I cannot allow this to be the end of it. We will continue to fight until we get a vote. And maybe they will vote it down, maybe we don’t win. But to deny us a vote? No. We won’t stop.

“I claim this phrase – it came to me on the floor yesterday – the NRA is playing a big part in this discussion. For me, the NRA stands for No Republican Action. Please make sure you send out that message.”

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Photo courtesy Rep Payne’s website at

Mel Kozakiewicz

is a writer, performer, and professor. She lives in the Heights section of Jersey City and she is a former editor for Jersey City Independent.