15-Hour Senate Filibuster Forces Gun Control Vote

By Kenrya Rankin Jun 16, 2016

It took 14 hours and 50 minutes of talking on the Senate floor, but Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) garnered the support to force a vote on gun control.


And so he did, standing on the floor without yielding his position for nearly 15 hours, only stopping his steady recounting of gun violence research long enough to entertain questions from the senators who joined him in the fight to pass legislation that he says would make it harder for would-be assailants to perpetrate crimes like this week’s massacre of predominantly LGBTQ Latinx and Black patrons at an Orlando nightclub.

Murphy, a Democrat, began speaking on the floor at 11:21 a.m. ET yesterday (June 15). Per a statement posted on his website, his goal was to delay Senate business on the Departments of Comerce and Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill until he convinced his Republican counterparts to hold votes on measures to “close the terror gap” and expand the background check process for people who wish to buy firearms. Brookings Institution reports that he was supported by 38 Democratic senators, many of whom spoke at length during the filibuster, giving Murphy much needed breaks. At 2:11 a.m. ET today (June 16), Murphy announced that the parties had reached an agreement to hold votes on Amendment 4720, often referred to as the Feinstein Amendment, and his own proposal, cowritten with Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). Per Murphy at the end of the filibuster:

It is our understanding that the Republican leader and the Democratic leader have spoken and that we have been given a commitment on a path forward to get votes on the floor of the Senate—on a measure to assure that those on the terrorist watch list do not get guns, and an amendment introduced by myself and Senator Booker and myself [SIC] and Senator Schumer to expand background checks to gun shows and to Internet sales.

The U.S. Department of Justice released a statement of support earlier today:

The Justice Department supports Senator Feinstein’s amendment to help keep guns out of the hands of individuals believed to be engaged in terrorism. The amendment gives the Justice Department an important additional tool to prevent the sale of guns to suspected terrorists by licensed firearms dealers while ensuring protection of the department’s operational and investigative sensitivities. We also continue to support universal background checks as a necessary tool to prevent suspected terrorists from lawfully obtaining firearms.

But The Washington Post reports that Republicans might also submit their own plans:

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated early in the morning that he would allow votes on “two important gun safety measures” as part of a pending bill to fund certain government agencies, including the Justice Department.

McConnell said that nothing was finalized but that leaders would “try” to schedule votes on proposals “from both sides.”

The full C-SPAN video of the filibuster appears above. Can’t watch the entire thing? Take eight minutes to watch the end, where Murphy movingly talks about Dylan Christopher Jack Hockley, a 6-year-old who died on the December 14, 2012, in the shooting at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School:


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