We look at the Senate’s gun control measure and see how it has gotten to this point.
On Wednesday morning this tweet pretty much described the Senate’s agenda for that day:
I am prepared to stand on the Senate floor and talk about the need to prevent gun violence for as long as I can. I've had #Enough
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 15, 2016
Yup that’s right, it’s a filibuster (not only for Rand Paul anymore)! Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy and his Democratic colleagues in the Senate held a 15 hour (!!!) filibuster that demanded the Senate vote on legislation that would set new gun control measures. By the end, it looked to have worked. The Senate GOP caved and said they would vote on two gun control measures.
So how did we get here and what do the two gun control measures specifically deal with? Let’s take a look!
- As you may have guessed, the call for action by Democrats came in response from last weekend’s mass shooting in Orlando. The divide between Republicans and Democrats over the Orlando shooting revolves around on where legislative action should be focused on. For Republicans, they perceive the shooting as an act of terrorism, while Democrats believe lax gun laws are the cause for the shooting. In fact, Democrats were so fed up with Congressional inaction on gun control that this took place after a moment of silence for the Orlando victims in Congress:
- Due to the number of mass shootings that have taken place in the recent years with little Congressional action, there is frustration among Democrats. The outburst after the moment of silence and 15 hour filibuster look to stem from that frustration. Yet Congressional Democrats know that with a GOP Congress, any gun control measure has very little to no chance of passing. The filibuster, in that sense, was most definitely a ploy to bring more attention to gun control legislation than anything else.
- With that said, the bill that Democrats want to bring onto the floor deals with two aspects of gun control which they have been fighting for years to implement. (1) The first is to deny anyone on the FBI’s terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms. (2) The other provision would mandate background checks for anyone buying a firearm at a gun show or online retailer.
- The denying of anyone from purchasing firearms on the FBI’s terrorist watch list would look like a no brainer, but it has been a contentious issue among gun rights activists for a long time. After the Orlando shooting however – where the suspect was on the terror watch list, but was able to legally purchase a firearm – you could see legitimate pressure for this bill to pass the Senate. It’s become such a big talking point that even Donald Trump is willing to talk to the National Rifle Association (NRA) about the issue!
I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2016
- As for the second provision to mandate background checks for anyone purchasing a firearm at a gun show or online retailer, could be trickier. For years Democrats (along with the Obama administration) have tried to close these background check loopholes, but gun rights activists have blocked any effort of legislative action. If this bill has any chance in passing through Congress, this provision of closing these loopholes will probably have to be written out.
- It will be interesting to see if this particular legislation can make it through Congress. Realistically, the filibuster was probably more designed to bring media focus to their gun control bill, rather than its actual passage. But with the Orlando shooting still fresh in everyone’s minds, you could see real public pressure for this to pass Congress.
(Photo Credit: CSPAN)