For three minutes, a silent crowd of demonstrators filled the steps of the Supreme Court with their lifeless bodies on the one year anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech in an appeal for stricter gun laws.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence sponsored the lie-in, which attracted prominent activists including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke and Virginia Tech shooting survivor Elilta Habtu. The District was one of about 70 U.S. locations expected to hold held the protest.
"The greatest tragedy is not learning from the tragedy that occurred one year ago today," Jackson said.
Holding back tears, Habtu read the names of the 32 people who were killed in the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. Habtu survived a shot in the jaw by student gunman Cho Seung-Hui, and as she read each victim's name, participants lay on their backs in solidarity with the fallen victims.
Helmke said Congress must do more to prevent gun violence and urged congressmen to effectively nullify state policies which allow consumers to purchase guns at gun shows without a background check.
David Greenspan, a high school senior who plans to attend Virginia Tech this fall, said he participated in the demonstration in an effort to support his future university.
"I think what's most important is to show our involvement," Greenspan said. "You know, (the tragedy) wasn't a factor in deciding to go (to Virginia Tech), but I'll always be thinking about it."
Many of the demonstrators paid homage to victims of the shooting by wearing black, orange and maroon, Virginia Tech's school colors. A line of demonstrators also held red signs that read "ProtestEasyGuns.com," blocking the steps to the Court.
"I am here to protest America's lax gun laws," said Abigail Spangler, a mother from Alexandria, Va. who began organizing the protests after the tragedy last year. "Today, on the one year anniversary of the deadliest school shooting in American history, we fight back for change."