The stunning and unruly scene was broadcast live to the world from Democrats' cell phones, feeds picked up by C-SPAN after Republicans shut down the network's cameras.
The sit-in was well into its 10th hour, with Democrats camped out on the floor stopping legislative business in the House, when Ryan stepped to the podium to gavel the House into session and hold votes on routine business. Angry Democrats chanted "No bill, no break!" and waved pieces of paper with the names of gun victims, continuing their protest in the well of the House even as lawmakers voted on a previously scheduled and unrelated measure to overturn a veto by President Barack Obama.
Ryan attempted to ignore the outbursts and announce the business of the day, pounding down his gavel over shouting. "Shame! Shame! Shame!" Democrats yelled, but Ryan left the lectern and the voting continued. Then Democrats began singing "We Shall Overcome," still holding up the names of gun victims.
Civil Rights titan, Congressman John Lewis led the charge.
"We've been patient, but we waited too long. We've been silent for too long, and we will continue to engage in peaceful, nonviolent action," said Lewis.
"This is nothing more than a publicity stunt, that's point number one," said Ryan. "Point number two is this bill was already defeated in the United States Senate."
While Ryan calls it political grandstanding, Congressman Bob Brady (D-Pa.) argues it's common sense legislation.
He spoke to Action News by phone.
"I don't know what they're afraid of, it's totally ridiculous. How many people have to got to get killed?" said Brady. "We just can't get this bill on the floor to vote. They vote it down fine, but let's get a vote on it."
Still, the demonstration went viral.
Congressman Donald Norcross (D-N.J.) posted a photo of himself on the floor with colleagues.
On Periscope, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders came to the well of chambers to rally his support.
And on Instagram, the commander in chief posted a video message to fellow Dems.
"We need our kids to hear us speak up about the risks guns pose to our communities, and against the status quo that doesn't make sense," said President Obama.
The Associated Press contributed to this post.