WASHINGTON — Led by the senators who represent Newtown, Connecticut — where a gunman fatally shot 26 people, including 20 children, in 2012 — Democrats took control of the Senate floor Wednesday and vowed to keep talking until lawmakers start doing something about gun violence.
“Newtown is still putting itself back together, probably will be for a long time,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who launched the filibuster-style takeover, declaring it was time for the Senate to do something about gun violence beyond the usual ineffective debates.
He said lawmakers could not go about business as usual after a mass killing at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday claimed 49 victims.
“This is a different moment today than it was at the end of last week,” Murphy said. “There is a newfound imperative for this body to find a way to come together and take action, to try to do our part to stem this epidemic of gun violence and in particular this epidemic of mass shootings.”
“There is a fundamental disconnect with the American people when these
tragedies continue to occur and we just move forward with business as usual,” he continued. “So 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 interrupted consideration of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Act. Among other things, it funds the Justice Department, and Democrats had already planned to try to add amendments related to gun violence to it. The first was expected to be a measure that would bar people who are on the terrorism watchlist from buying guns.
Murphy also wants to force a vote on the so-called gun-show loophole, which can allow criminals to buy guns from unlicensed dealers without a background check.
Republicans took a dim view of Murphy’s step, pointing out that he and other Democrats had already voted to start working on the CJS bill. And mounting a talking blockade merely delays the votes.
“The only thing he’s blocking is any effort to vote on the amendments he says he wants. He did, after all, just agree to proceed to the bill,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Still, Democrats have failed at recent attempts to change gun laws, and they hope they can force an agreement that allows a dozen or so Republicans to break with the positions of the National Rifle Association.
“Sen. Murphy and Senate Democrats are holding the floor because they will not accept inaction or half measures in the face of continued slaughter,” said Chris Harris, a Murphy spokesman. “Congress cannot sit on the sidelines while killers freely buy weapons to brutally murder the people Congress is supposed to be protecting.”
“Until private sales at gun shows and over the internet also require stringent background checks and unless suspected terrorists on the no fly list are prohibited from legally purchasing guns, our lax gun laws will continue to allow terrorists and criminals to amass a weapons stockpile,” Harris added. “Sen. Murphy will remain on the floor demanding the Senate adopt these measures.”
(via: Huffington Post)