Frustrated and angry at the perpetual refusal of Senate Republicans to even consider any kind of commonsense gun legislation, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) has commandeered the floor of the Senate and is mounting what is shaping up to be a historically epic filibuster until the Senate takes some kind of substantial action to halt the daily slaughter of American citizens at the hands of their countrymen.
His filibuster began at 11:20 AM and will continue, he says, until the Senate votes to restrict the sales of firearms to members of the terrorist watch list. “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” said Murphy, who was immediately joined by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and other Senate Democrats in his stand against conservative obstructionism and the machinations of the firearms lobby. He addressed the White House, saying, “Now, Mr. President, I’ve stood on this floor dozens of times talking about this subject. Often I come down to tell the story of the voices of the victims of these gun homicides, of these mass shootings just to make sure everybody here knows who these people are. They’re real people with families. And so this isn’t new to me, but I ‘m at my wit’s end. I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of the ongoing slaughter of innocence, and I’ve had enough of inaction in this body.”
Murphy is using his filibuster as the perfect opportunity to lay out all of his points on gun violence and a need for regulation. Gun violence and firearm proliferation invades every corner of American society, so there is no shortage of issues to talk about. From mass shootings, to suicides; from street violence to tragic accidents. This constant barrage of injury and death touches everyone. Murphy explains, “They say in cities across America when one person is shot, there are 20 people surrounding them, friends, family members, aunts, uncles, children who experience post-traumatic stress after that event. Studies suggest that there are 20 people that experience levels of trauma. Often in our cities, that leads to a cycle of violence.”
Murphy himself has been forced to deal with a particularly noteworthy mass shooting while in office – the Sandyhook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT. Even in the face of that tragedy, which left Connecticut and country grief-stricken, Democrats were unable to enact change. Hauntingly Murphy says, “And it won’t surprise you to know that 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. I can’t tell you how hard it is to look into the eyes of the families of those little boys and girls who were killed in Sandy Hook and tell them that almost four years later we’ve done nothing, nothing at all to reduce the likelihood that that will happen again to another family.”
We hope that Murphy has finally found the means to force the change in gun laws that America so desperately needs. He says that, “There is a new found imperative for this body to find a way to come together and take action, to try to do our part to stem this epidemic of gun violence and in particular this epidemic of mass shootings that plagues this nation and no other industrialized nation in the world.” Although really the imperative isn’t new; Pulse is just one horror in a long history of mass shootings. Something has to change before the next tragedy.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.