Democratic filibuster ends with Republican agreement on gun-control vote

By Amy R. Connolly

WASHINGTON, June 16 (UPI) -- Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy ended a nearly 15-hour filibuster early Thursday, saying Republican leaders have agreed to vote on expanded background checks and some gun-control measures in response to the Orlando, Fla., shooting that left 49 dead earlier this week.

The Connecticut senator said Republicans agreed to "a commitment on a path forward" to vote on a measure that will stop gun access to those on terrorist watch lists and expanded background checks for gun shows and Internet sales. Murphy and other Democrats hope to tack the amendments to a pending spending bill.


"Now we still have to get from here to there, but we did not have that commitment when we started today," he said.

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Murphy began speaking on the Senate floor about 11:20 a.m. Wednesday to delay business appropriations bills for the departments of commerce and justice, science agencies and other related agencies. Throughout the marathon session, he was joined by 40 senators, including Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.


He announced the agreement at 2:11 a.m., 14 hours and 50 minutes after he began.

During the filibuster, Murphy allowed questions from other senators, not yielding the floor. Some six hours in, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, co-sponsor of the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 bill, said, "Our thoughts and prayers are no longer enough."

"What will it take? How many mornings do we have to wake up to news of a shooting at an elementary school or a college campus, a theater where people are gathering for a chance to just escape and enjoy a movie, or as we learned last Sunday morning, a nightclub during June, which is gay pride month?" she said against a backdrop of a photo array of the Orlando shooting victims.

As the filibuster continued, Murphy spoke about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead in Newtown, Conn. He said Democrats are asking for the "two least controversial" measures to limit gun access to some.

In his closing comments, Murphy told the story of Dylan Hockley, a 6-year-old who died in the Sandy Hook shooting, and his teacher Anne Marie Murphy, who died protecting him.


"It doesn't take courage to stand here on the floor of the U.S. Senate for two hours or six hours or 14 hours. It doesn't take courage to stand up to the gun lobby when 90 percent of your constituents want change to happen," he said. "It takes courage to look into the eye of a shooter and instead of running, wrapping your arms around a 6-year-old boy and accepting death."

"If Anne Marie Murphy could do that, then ask yourself, what can you do to make sure that Orlando or Sandy Hook never, ever happens again," he said.

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