Sen. Christopher S. Murphy took (D-Conn) the floor at 11:21 a.m. Wednesday, starting a filibuster on gun violence. The goal is to advance as some sort of firearms bill to show the country that Congress is in line with the people of the U.S.
“I’ve had enough and I just couldn’t bring myself to come back to the Senate this week and pretend like this is just business as usual,” Murphy said Wednesday. “We’ve got to find a way to come together. Now I don’t know how long this will take but I’m going to stand here and hold the floor while we give time to our colleagues to try and find a path forward.”
As Murphy held the floor, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said he and California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein were talking to see if there was room for consensus on how to best keep individuals on terror watch lists from buying guns.
“There’s no debate that we both want to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. We want to make sure it’s done in a constitutional way,” the Texas Republican said.
At several points in his filibuster, Murphy ceded the floor to his fellow Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal. Galvanized by the 2012 shooting in their home state that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, both senators urged a ban on assault weapons and better controls over who can buy guns.
Murphy has filed an amendment to the fiscal 2017 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill to overhaul the nation’s background checks for gun purchasers, including closing the so-called “gun show loophole” by requiring background checks on all gun sales.
The spending bill was expected to come to the floor Wednesday, but Murphy’s filibuster stalled action on that and other legislative measures.
Around noon, Sen. Cory Booker took the floor to stress the need for such measures, particularly in light of Sunday’s shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left 49 people dead and 53 injured.
The New Jersey Democrat recounted the numbers of people killed in mass shootings in recent years. And he said terrorist attacks are increasingly being committed with guns, not bombs.
“We are here to say, enough,” Booker said. “I’ve cleared my entire day … so I can stay on this floor and assist Sen. Murphy.”
Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois took a turn around 12:30 p.m., and Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson emerged around 1:30 to talk about the AR-15, the semi-automatic weapon used in the Orlando attack. New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer followed soon after to talk about efforts to work with Republicans on compromise legislation.