Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy launched a filibuster on the Senate floor and was joined by his fellow Democrats in an attempt to force Republicans to accept gun control measures. Murphy was joined by several Democrats, including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez as the filibuster went over five hours.
The Senate was debating a spending bill when Murphy took to the floor, noting that the Senate should "not proceed with debate on amendments to this bill until we have figured out a way to come together on, at the very least, two simple ideas." Democrats hope to pass legislation that would deny suspected terrorists the ability to purchase firearms and would require universal background checks.
"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 after launching his filibuster at around 11.20am EDT/4.20pm BST.
''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,'' Murphy said.
According to Politico, most of the Democratic caucus was unaware that Murphy planned to take the floor. However, there had been discussion of lining up speeches throughout the night on 15 June. Meanwhile, Texas Senator John Cornyn (Republican) and California Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat) are looking into whether there is a bipartisan way to prevent suspected terrorists from buying firearms.
Democratic senators from a number of states joined Murphy to speak about their states, their support for bipartisan action on gun control, support for the LGBT and immigrant communities. At least three Republicans—Sens Sasse (Nebraska), Toomey (Pennsylvania) and Portman (Ohio)—were allowed to speak as well.
The following Democratic senators have spoken during the filibuster in support of gun control: Richard Blumenthal (CT); Cory Booker (NJ); Dick Durbin (IL); Bill Nelson (FL); Chuck Schumer (NY); Joe Manchin (WV); Ben Cardin (MD); Ed Markey (MA); Patrick Leahy (VT); Al Franken (MN), Gary Peters (MI); Ron Wyden (OR); Elizabeth Warren (MA); Jeff Merkley (OR); Bob Menendez (NJ); Jeanne Shaheen (NH); Kirsten Gillibrand (NY); Claire McCaskill (MO); Mark Warner (VA); Patricia Murray (WA); Amy Klobuchar (MN); Barbara Mikulski (MD); Sherrod Brown (OH); and Debbie Stabenow (MI).
Murphy is allowing questions from fellow senators but it not yielding the floor.
According to Gallup, a majority of Americans (55%) favour stricter gun control laws. Gallup noted that support for stricter gun control measures is often higher following high-profile shooting incidents like the Orlando nightclub shooting on 12 June.
"Large majorities of Americans support almost all proposals that deal with increased or more thorough background checks before guns can be purchases," Gallup reported. "Americans are not convinced, however, that increased background-check laws would reduce the number of mass shootings in the US."
You can watch the filibuster live above.