On Wednesday, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy (D) made a dramatic and surprising move by launching a filibuster on the floor of the United States Senate. Murphy was quickly joined by other senate Democrats, with the aim to pressure Republican lawmakers into making a move towards reforming gun laws. The legislation that the Democrats would see passed would have suspected terrorists denied the chance to purchase firearms and universal background checks conducted for all purchases.
According to a report from Slate, Murphy launched the filibuster at approximately 11:21 a.m. this morning while he had the Senate floor during a debate on a spending bill. Murphy’s original plan was launched with little planning as, at the time, he only intended to yield his control of the Senate floor to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and fellow Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal to entertain any questions and further discussions. Slate says he was prepared to maintain his stance until the requirements for gun control were met.
“I’m going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together on these two measures, that we can get a path forward on addressing this epidemic in a meaningful, bipartisan way.”
— Florida Democrats (@FlaDems) June 15, 2016
The original spending bill that the Senate was debating was one the Democrats had brought in the hope of offering gun amendments, but Murphy maintains that first, they figure “out a way to come together” on the larger more important issue of gun control.
Murphy was first elected to office right after the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in the small Connecticut town. The Connecticut senator has since gone on to become known as one of the most prominent voices calling for gun control in the nation, second only to President Obama himself, and it has been said that the fact that he is the one leading this filibuster makes perfect sense.
While two senior aides have confirmed that most of the Democratic caucus was not aware of Murphy’s plan to filibuster until he had already taken the floor, they also said that on Tuesday night there had been some talk of lining up speeches to carry on throughout Wednesday night.
The Democrats and the Republicans, even in the face of the attack on the gay club in Orlando on Sunday — the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States — have very different approaches to containing future threats to the nation. The issue of universal background checks on all purchases of firearms is one that many say the Republicans are unlikely to concede on.
In a surprising twist, sometime around 3 p.m. the filibuster saw its first Republican speaker when Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey joined in near the four-hour mark. The senator is actually no stranger to gun control measures, though, and had cosponsored a failed post-Sandy Hook background-check bill. Thus far, Minnesota Democrat Al Franken and Vermont Democrat Pat Leahy, along with Florida’s Bill Nelson, Illinois’ Dick Durbin, Maryland’s Ben Cardin, Massachusetts’ Edward Markey, New York’s Charles Schumer, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin have also made remarks.
The public has not been silent in their support.
— Bim 4 #HoldTheFloor (@bimmerella) June 15, 2016
Politico has pointed out that the filibuster for gun control is taking place on the same day that Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, had a scheduled meeting with the National Rifle Association. The bills that the Democrats are, and have been, proposing regarding sweeping background checks and banning purchase of guns for those persons on the terror watchlist are generally supported by the public, but due to the NRA’s influence on the congressional system, they rarely get passed when introduced to Congress. For their part, the NRA is aware of the current filibuster and attempts by the Democrats to gain gun control legislature and have put out a statement suggesting that they would support delays in selling guns to persons who have been flagged as being on the terror watchlist. The NRA says this would be done in order to allow time for the person to be “thoroughly investigated by the FBI.”
The proposition that the NRA has put forth is one that presidential nominee Donald Trump has also indicated that he might support.
Much of the recent speakers have joined in under the blatant pretense that they were aware of Senator Murphy’s original plan to filibuster and wrap up their speech by referring back to him with pretty much rhetorical questions. As long as Murphy does not formally yield the floor and remain at his desk, his filibuster with the support of his colleagues will be allowed to continue. Hopefully, Murphy will not need a bathroom break anytime soon, but if he does, Mother Jones has a very informative article about peeing while giving a filibuster.
Stay tuned to the Inquisitr for more information on the developing story of the Senate gun legislature filibuster.
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