Senate Democrats launched a filibuster on Wednesday (June 15) to fight for gun control measures in the wake of last weekend's mass shooting in Orlando.
"This is a different moment today than it was at the end of last week," Connecticut senator Chris Murphy, who initiated the filibuster, said. "There is a newfound imperative for this body to find a way to come together and take action."
Fellow Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal quickly joined Murphy on the floor. Both men represent Newtown, the town where a mass shooting claimed 26 lives in 2012. Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Chuck Schumer of New York also spoke up. Others were reportedly signing up for speaking slots as late as 10:30 pm.
Murphy launched the filibuster during senate's consideration of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Act, which provides funding for the Justice Department, among other things. Democrats already planned to introduce two gun control amendments to the bill, but were moved to further action by the tragedy in Orlando.
Murphy hopes the filibuster will force agreement on gun control before the vote proceeds.
"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 said.
The "two measures" refer to the Democrat's two amendments: one to require universal background checks, and one to prevent those on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns. While the filibuster continued, Democrats and Republicans debated two means of addressing the latter.
Many Republican senators support a measure backed by the National Rifle Association, which would allow judges to clear those on the terrorist watch list to buy a gun. Democrats prefer to give only the Department of Justice this authority.