Senate Democrats launched a filibuster on the Senate floor on Wednesday in hopes of forcing an agreement on legislation that would prohibit individuals on the terror watch list from buying firearms.
Led by Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who was joined by fellow Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Cory Booker of New Jersey, the filibuster came as the upper chamber started debate on a spending bill that would include an amendment to prevent those on the no-fly list from buying a gun.
Murphy said on the Senate floor:
[The Senate should] not proceed with debate on amendments to this bill until we have figured out a way to come together on, at the very least, two simple ideas. 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.
Murphy was serving as the congressman of the district containing Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 during the Sandy Hook massacre.
More Democrats are expected to join the filibuster, which prevents any amendment votes on the spending bill.
The filibuster comes after the Orlando terrorist attack – the deadliest mass shooting in US history. At least 49 people were killed at a gay nightclub early on Sunday morning when a gunman who pledged allegiance to terrorist organizations opened fire.
“I’ve cleared my entire day,” Booker said. “I’ve cleared my evening events … so that I can stay on this floor and support Sen. Murphy.”
That bill was shot down late last year on a virtual party-line vote.
- REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
During a Monday conference call, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said that if the bill were passed when first brought before the Senate in December, the Orlando terrorist attack would have been avoided.
In December, just one day after the attack in San Bernardino, California, Senate Republicans rejected the bill stopping suspected terrorists from buying weapons. The counterargument to the bill was that, since people can be placed on a terror watch list – such as the so-called no-fly list – without due process, then a citizen could be wrongly stripped of his or her Second Amendment right.
The bill failed on a 54-45 vote.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump expressed openness to discussing such legislation in a Wednesday tweet.
“I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no-fly list, to buy guns,” he wrote.
In addition, conservative Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Gretchen Carlson expressed strong interest in such legislation during their Tuesday programs.