Updated: June 17
Three days after a gunman killed 50 people in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy took to the Senate floor to demand a congressional vote on gun control.
Murphy is no stranger to appealing for gun control. After shootings in a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school killed dozens in 2012, Murphy, then a recent addition to the Senate, became a prominent advocate for gun-control measures he and other senators said would abate an “epidemic” of gun violence in the United States. Murphy took the floor Wednesday around 11:30 am; the filibuster lasted 15 hours.
“I’m prepared to stand on this floor and talk about the need for this body to come together on keeping terrorists away from getting guns … for frankly as long as I can, because I know that we can come together on this issue,” Murphy said at the beginning of the filibuster. “Having come through the experience of Newtown, I’ve had enough.”
Murphy’s filibuster focused on two measures: expanding background checks, including eliminating the provision that allows sales to go through after 72 hours if a background check has not yet been completed; and stopping people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns.
Next week, the Senate will consider bills on universal background checks and on a no fly-list ban.
Murphy received support from his fellow Democrats in the Senate. Throughout the day, various senators — including Cory Booker LAW ’97 of New Jersey, Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 of Connecticut and Sherrod Brown of Ohio — joined him in the filibuster. And the office of Minority Leader Harry Reid released a statement calling on Republicans to “find the courage to stand up to the National Rifle Association”
The NRA, for its part, has not dismissed entirely the idea of banning those on the terror watch list from buying guns. In a statement issued earlier Wednesday, the NRA affirmed its support for a bill proposed by Texas Republican John Cornyn that would give the FBI 72 hours to obtain a court order barring a person on the watch list from purchasing a gun.
The Cornyn bill, which seeks to resolve due-process concerns with blanket denial of Second Amendment rights to those on the terrorist watchlist, has the support of most Republicans, including Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse GRD ’04, who asked questions of Murphy during the filibuster. But Reid dismissed Cornyn’s proposal as “unworkable.”
Murphy called on his particular experience representing Connecticut in his opening remarks.
“It won’t surprise you to know that for those of us that represent Connecticut, the failure of this body to do anything — anything — at all in the face of that continued slaughter isn’t just painful to us,” Murphy said, invoking the legacy of the Newtown shootings. “It’s unconscionable.”
When taking office in 2012, Murphy vowed to support filibuster reform — allowing a simple majority vote to invoke cloture, instead of the currently required 60 votes — during his time in the Senate.