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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Senator Chris Murphy’s talking filibuster to stop gun violence enters its fourteenth hour

Early this morning, at 8:21 AM Pacific Time, Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut took to the Senate floor to call for action to address gun violence. But instead of merely giving a short speech and then yielding the floor, Murphy courageously began what has now turned into the eighth longest “talking filibuster” in the history of the United States Senate, demanding that the chamber act to address the nation’s gun violence epidemic.

Joined by most of his colleagues in the Senate Democratic caucus over the course of the morning, afternoon, evening, and then night, Murphy took questions and comments from colleagues, but did not relinquish the floor.

He has now been on his feet for over fourteen hours.

“Our heart breaks collectively in this country for the citizens of Orlando and as I’ll speak in a moment, in particular in Connecticut,” said Murphy as he began his historic, inspiring filibuster. (See his opening remarks on video here.)

“Our heart breaks for the people of Orlando because we know in a very real way the pain that exists there today, but we also know how that pain is really never ending, how the ripples of that pain are unceasing and unrelenting and they span generations. They span neighborhoods. They span years. Newtown is still putting itself back together, probably will be for a long time, and Orlando the same.”

“I don’t think that we should proceed with debate on amendments to this [Commerce, Science, Justice, and Related Agencies Appropriations] bill until we have figured out a way to come together on, at the very least, two simple ideas that enjoy the support of 80% to 90% of Americans,” Murphy declared.

“Two ideas, two pieces of legislation that would have been potentially impactful with respect to the case in Orlando. That is one piece of legislation that Senator Feinstein has introduced that would simply say that if you are on a terror watch list, that you shouldn’t be able to buy a weapon. Second, in order to make that protection meaningful, you also need to make sure that whenever a would-be shooter buys a gun, he goes through a background check.”

“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 added.

Minutes ago, after hours of taking questions from fellow Democrats and remaining on his feet on the Senate floor, Murphy announced that he had received word that Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid had been in discussions about scheduling a vote on addressing gun violence. Exactly what kind of commitment McConnell made with respect to holding a vote was not described, but Murphy sounded an optimistic note as he summarized the information that he had received.

“If you’re turning in for the night, here’s the game plan: We need a vote tomorrow on gun safety, and we need to win that vote. Stay tuned!” tweeted Senate Democratic caucus staff.

Murphy’s filibuster has become a top trending topic on Twitter; the company even released a map showing where the tweets are coming from.

POSTSCRIPT: Chris Murphy has yielded the floor as of 2:12 AM Eastern/11:12 PM Pacific Time. His talking filibuster stands as the eighth longest in Senate history.

Murphy ended his filibuster by asking everyone to remember Dylan Christopher Jack Hockley and his teacher Anne Marie Murphy, who perished in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Hockley and Murphy were later found together by the police who had to clear the awful crime scene.

As Tom Cleary reported on December 17th, 2012:

Dylan Hockley died in Anne Marie Murphy’s arms

Staring down the barrel of a rifle, Anne Marie Murphy pulled Dylan Hockley close to her, trying to shield him from the hail of bullets that would kill them both.

Dylan, 6, had special needs, his family said Monday. And Murphy was his “amazing” aide, they said. He loved her, pointing happily to her photo on the Hockley’s refrigerator every day.

“We take great comfort in knowing that Dylan was not alone when he died,” said his parents, Ian and Nicole Hockley.

We have lost enough lives in this country to gun violence. Congress should have acted after Newtown, and Aurora, and Fort Hood, and all the other tragedies of years past, but it didn’t. Congress has failed us too many times.

We’re incredibly grateful to Senator Chris Murphy for recognizing this, saying so, and holding the floor of the Senate for more than fourteen hours straight to demand that our nation’s lawmakers do more than simply observe another pointless moment of silence in the wake of another massacre.

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