Tom Daley
Subscribe To
The Advocate
Scroll To Top

Democrats Get Past Step One on Two Gun Control Measures

Chris Murphy

There’s a glimmer of hope that the tiniest shred of gun control legislation might pass the Senate in response to the Orlando shooting that left 49 people dead. 

After nearly 15 hours of talking on the Senate floor, the filibuster held by Democrats on Wednesday and into the early hours of Thursday has apparently been a success, and there will be two votes on gun control measures.

The two ideas — stopping people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns, and requiring background checks even when someone purchases a gun online or at a gun show instead of in a store — will be allowed votes by the full Senate, Democrats say.

“We chose to ask for the two least controversial provisions possible that will still do a world of good,” said Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, home to the Newtown mass shooting that killed 20 children and six adults. He spoke from the Senate floor and announced Republicans had agreed “on a path to get those votes.” 

With the Senate controlled by Republicans, it’s essentially up to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on whether any piece of legislation gets a vote. So Democrats, led by Murphy, filibustered an existing funding bill, called the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. It worked, and now they must focus on winning enough votes to pass the laws.

“I have been so angry that this Congress has mustered absolutely no response to mass shooting after mass shooting, in city after city that is plagued by gun violence,” said Murphy on the Senate floor. “I’m not saying we aren't doing important work but there are 30,000 people dying every year on the streets of this country. And those that they leave behind – their moms and their dads and their little sisters and brothers – don’t get the total indifference that we portray.”

Murphy had been joined in the filibuster by out Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who gave a moving eulogy for the 49 victims of the Pulse shooting as she stood before a large portrait of their faces. 

“Our thoughts and prayers ... are important but not enough,” she said

Democrats were already making this an election issue, with Jim Gray, the gay man running against incumbent Sen. Rand Paul in Kentucky, challenging his opponent Thursday to support closing the loophole. So far, he hasn't.

Much of the political pressure is concentrated on passing that “No Fly, No Buy” law, which even Donald Trump seemed to support on Twitter on Wednesday, promising to meet with the National Rifle Association about the idea. The “terrorist loophole,” as some Democrats are calling it, comes with alarming data from the Government Accountability Office, which reports that people on the terrorist watch list cleared a background check to buy a gun in 94 percent of cases in 2013 and 2014. That means 455 times a person suspected of terrorist ties bought a gun. 

Omar Mateen, the shooter in Orlando, had once been on a terrorist watch list, authorities have confirmed. Mateen had been removed from the list, though, and legislation proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California would come with enough discretion by the FBI to ensure that even people who’d been dropped could still be denied a gun.

From our Sponsors

READER COMMENTS ()
    Watch Now: Pride Today
    Trending Stories & News