Update, June 16: Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy finished his nearly 15-hour filibuster at just after 2 a.m. on Thursday, after announcing via Twitter that the Senate would hold a vote on the “terror gap” and universal background checks.
Murphy, who had promised not to leave the floor until there was an agreement to address the issue, concluded by sharing the story of two victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, Politico reported. He recounted how teacher’s aide, Anne Marie Murphy, had died trying to save 6-year-old Dylan Hockley. Murphy took office to represent Connecticut shortly before the shooting, which killed 20 children and six adults.
It doesn’t take courage to stand here on the floor of the United States Senate...It takes courage to look into the eye of a shooter and instead of running, wrapping your arms around a 6-year-old boy and accepting death.
This article was originally published on June 15, 2016.
In the aftermath of the Orlando shootings that killed 49 people, Senate Democrats have initiated a surprise filibuster, holding any other legislative attempts hostage until the issue of gun safety reform is addressed.
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy started the filibuster at about 11:20 a.m. on Wednesday morning, according to The Associated Press. Shortly before he began speaking, he tweeted that he would stay on the floor as long as necessary, preventing legislators from bringing any other issues to the floor for as long as he could continue talking.
Murphy, who was elected just before the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting that killed 26 people, is calling on Congress to pass legislation to prohibit suspected terrorists from purchasing guns and to require universal background checks.
As he spoke, Murphy referenced Congress’ failure to pass any legislation in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, according to the AP. "For those of us that represent Connecticut, the failure of this body to do anything, anything at all in the face of that continued slaughter isn't just painful to us, it's unconscionable," he said.
Early on Sunday morning, a lone shooter armed with a semi-automatic rifle killed 49 people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, in the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. In the aftermath of the attack, many people were appalled to discover that though the shooter had been twice investigated by the FBI for a suspected terrorism connection, he had been allowed to legally purchase the gun he used to attack the LGBTQ nightclub.
For those of us that represent Connecticut, the failure of this body to do anything, anything at all in the face of that continued slaughter isn't just painful to us, it's unconscionable.
Though Politico reports that many of Murphy’s fellow Democrats were unaware of his plans, other legislators quickly jumped in to support him. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal briefly took over for questions and discussion, as did legislators from Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and elsewhere.
Slate notes that the filibuster turned bipartisan when Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey became the first Republican to speak during the filibuster around 3 p.m., a little less than four hours after it began.
It’s uncertain how long the filibuster will go for, but because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had not filed to limit speaking time, it could go indefinitely (or at least until Murphy needs to use a restroom).