Senate Democrats wrapped up a nearly fifteen-hour filibuster on gun control in the early hours of Thursday morning after GOP leaders reportedly agreed to allow votes on two measures.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who spearheaded the filibuster, announced on Twitter that the Senate will hold votes on banning people on the terrorist watch list from obtaining firearms licenses and on expanding background checks to gun shows and Internet sales.
I am proud to announce that after 14+ hours on the floor, we will have a vote on closing the terror gap & universal background checks
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 16, 2016
The filibuster came in the wake of the worst mass shooting in US history over the weekend, where 49 were killed and 53 wounded at an Orlando, Florida gay club. Gunman Omar Mateen legally purchased the firearms used in the shooting though he’d been investigated by the FBI and was once included on the terror watch list.
But Murphy’s filibuster had its roots in earlier mass killings that Democratic leaders argued made a clear case for stronger federal gun laws.
“What unites all of these shootings, from Littleton to Aurora, to Newtown, to Blacksburg to Orlando, is that the weapon of choice in every case is a gun—often a very powerful gun, an AR-15 or an AR-15-style gun that was designed for the military, for law enforcement to kill as many people as quickly as possible,” Murphy said, according to NBC.
The Connecticut senator invoked the mass shooting of 20 children and six teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in his home state to shame his fellow legislators for their lack of action.
“I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of the ongoing slaughter of innocents, and I’ve had enough of inaction in this body,” Murphy said when he kicked off the filibuster at 11:21 am on Wednesday.
The legislation on barring the sale of guns and explosives to people it suspects of being terrorists was first proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) one day after a couple killed 14 at an office holiday party in San Bernardino, California.
According to Murphy, both Feinstein’s amendment, which was rejected in December, and the amendment on universal background checks will now come up for votes.
Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) were among the 38 Democrats who joined Murphy on the Senate floor to voice support for stricter gun control regulations.
“At least put your hand up for a vote that will begin, just begin the long journey to rectify a substantial national problem that takes 33,000 people every year,” Casey said, according to NBC. “All we’re asking for is a start.”