In a bid to build momentum for various gun control plans in the aftermath of the attack on a nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people, Democrats took control of the Senate floor and held it into the night on Wednesday, arguing that legislative action is long overdue in the Congress on plans to restrict gun purchases.
“We’ve just had enough,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who started speaking on the Senate floor at 11:21 am on Wednesday morning.
“We think it’s time for action and time for action now,” Murphy added, as he held the floor until just after 2 am on Thursday.
Murphy’s almost 15 hours of action was the ninth longest speech in Senate history, putting him just behind Sen. Al d’Amato (R-NY), who filibustered for a little longer in 1992.
Murphy was joined throughout the day and night by other Democrats, as they vented their frustration at being unable to push gun control plans past Republicans in the House and Senate.
“Why can’t Congress act?” asked Murphy’s colleague from the Nutmeg State, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). “That’s why we’re here saying, enough is enough.”
“It’s time for us to start to do the right thing,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).
“The American people are demanding – and rightly so – that we take action, now,” said a visibly frustrated Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD).
While Democrats were speaking out on the Senate floor, they also were working behind the scenes on a series of gun control initiatives, itching to force votes that would put Republicans on the record on guns.
Among their ideas:
+ A ban on assault weapons
+ Insure there are full background checks for private gun sales outside of gun shows
+ “No fly, no buy” – if someone is on the terror watch list and can’t fly on a passenger jet, then they would also not be allowed to buy a firearm
+ Another plan from Democrats would say if a person is investigated by the feds for terrorism, then they would not be allowed to buy a gun for up to five years in the U.S.
“Over the past decade, 91 percent of individuals who are known or suspected terrorists passed background checks,” said Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) of the instant check system for gun purchasers.
Only a couple of Republicans waded into the Democratic talkathon on Wednesday – one of them was Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who is in a tough re-election bid this year.
“I’m of the view that it’s time to get something done,” Toomey said; the Keystone State Republican has tried in past years to forge deals with Democrats on gun issues, but has not been able to gather 60 votes to end debate.
As for the National Rifle Association, the group weighed in by saying that “terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms, period.”
But the rub for the NRA and many Republicans is that they worry the ‘no fly list’ is a bureaucratic morass, with little opportunity for someone to get their name off that list – and that could prevent them from buying a weapon.
The NRA put out that statement after Donald Trump unexpectedly announced his support for the idea of the ‘no fly, no buy’ legislation – which seemingly could put him on the same side as Democrats, and against the GOP.
“If Donald Trump decides today to support ‘no fly, no buy,’ it will just be the latest disagreement that House Republicans say they have with him,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY).