Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, waged a nearly 15-hour filibuster from Wednesday morning into the early hours of Thursday morning, hoping to force a vote on gun control legislation three days after 49 people were killed at a Florida nightclub in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Murphy ended a series of speeches with his Democratic colleagues at 2:11 a.m.
“I am proud to announce that after 14+ hours on the floor, we will have a vote on closing the terror gap & universal background checks,” Murphy Tweeted.
After two hours of sleep, Murphy Tweeted that he’s back on his feet and ready to continue his fight.
On Wednesday, he pledged to remain on the Senate floor "until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together" and evoked the Newtown school shooting in Connecticut in December 2012.
I am proud to announce that after 14+ hours on the floor, we will have a vote on closing the terror gap & universal background checks— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 16, 2016
His plea came as presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet with the National Rifle Association about the terror watch list and gun purchases.
"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 on Wednesday.
Leaders of the Republican Party have reportedly agreed to allow votes on whether to ban people on the government's terrorist watch list from obtaining gun licenses and whether to expand background checks to gun shows and internet sales, NBC News reports.
Twenty children and six educators died in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012.
Murphy, a 42-year-old the father of two young boys, said he cannot look into the eyes of the relatives of the Newtown shooting victims and tell them that Congress has done nothing since.
The election-year fight over gun control pitted strong proponents of the Second Amendment right to bear arms against those arguing for greater restrictions on the ability to obtain weapons. Trump, who has the endorsement of the NRA, told a rally in Georgia, "I'm going to save your Second Amendment."
The president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, based in Groton, released a statement on Thursday morning.
"While no one wants to see a terrorist get his or her hands on a firearm, the due process of law that protects every American needs to be defended with rigor. Chris Murphy should come to the realization that secret lists which prohibit a person from exercising their constitutional rights is antithetical to every principal (sic) upon which this country was founded. But I suspect this would not matter to the senator,"CCDL President Scott Wilson said. "Citizens who are on a watch list should be looked at more closely and investigated as a possible solution. Labeling a person as a potential criminal before the fact ant stripping that person of their rights is a slippery slope."
Since the Sunday morning shooting in Orlando, Florida, Democrats have revived their push for gun control legislation.
It's been nearly a decade since Congress made any significant changes to federal gun laws. In April 2007, Congress passed a law to strengthen the instant background check system after a gunman at Virginia Tech was able to purchase his weapons because his mental health history was not in the instant background check database. Thirty-two people died in the shooting.
Murphy began speaking at 11:21 a.m. ended the speeches with Democratic colleagues at 2:11 a.m. Over the 14 hours, he showed few signs of fatigue.
By Senate rules, he had to stand at his desk to maintain control of the floor. When asked by another senator how he was feeling just before 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Murphy said rehabilitation from a back injury in his 20s had helped him build up endurance.
As tourists looked on from the galleries, Murphy maintained his filibuster to a mostly empty chamber, except for a handful of Democratic senators who joined him through the day. For those following from afar, Democrats gave updates on Twitter using hashtag "#enough."
Some Democratic House members even crossed the Capitol to watch the debate from the back of the Senate chamber.
What Murphy was seeking a vote on is legislation from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would allow the government to bar sales of guns and explosives to people it suspects of being terrorists. Feinstein offered the amendment in December, a day after an extremist couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, but the Republican-run Senate rejected the proposal on a near party-line vote. Murphy also wants a vote to expand background checks.
The Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, was added to a government watch list of individuals known or suspected of being involved in terrorist activities in 2013, when he was investigated for inflammatory statements to co-workers, but he was pulled from that database when that investigation was closed 10 months later.
Trump said he would meet with the NRA to discuss ways to block people on terrorism watch lists or no-fly lists from buying guns. That wouldn't have blocked Mateen from buying a gun, however, since he'd been pulled from the watch list.
In a statement, the NRA said it was happy to meet with Trump and reiterated its support for a bill from Cornyn that would let the government delay firearms sales to suspected terrorists for up to 72 hours. Prosecutors would have to persuade a judge to block the transaction permanently, a bar Democrats and gun control activists say is too high.
Cornyn and other Republicans have argued that Feinstein's bill denies due process to people who might be on the terror list erroneously and are trying to exercise their constitutional right to gun ownership.
Separately, Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said it was working on a compromise with Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick Toomey, a Republican in a tough re-election race this year who has sought compromise in the past on gun control measures.
By the end of the day on Wednesday, Toomey had introduced legislation that would direct the attorney general to create a new list of suspected terrorists who could be barred from buying weapons. But some Democrats immediately rejected that idea, saying it would create too much of a backlog.