Senate votes against gun measures in wake of Orlando nightclub shooting, Sen. Murphy filibuster

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WASHINGTON -- Democrats get their long-sought votes on gun control after the terror attack in an Orlando, Florida gay nightclub, but election-year politics ensure no changes in the nation's laws.

Four amendments were up for vote:

  • A Republican measure to increase funds for the federal FBI background check system that would force states to send more information on felons and those with mental health issues to the national database
  • A Democratic measure sponsored by Sen. Chris Murphy to expand background check requirements, including for private gun transactions, leaving fewer loopholes for gun shows
  • A Republican measure to delay the sale of guns to those on terror watch lists for 72 hours, at which point court action would be required to block the sale permanently
  • A Democratic measure banning the sale of guns to all suspected terrorists

All four were expected to fail, and all needed 60 votes to pass. The first failed 53-47; the second failed 44-56; the third failed 53-47; the fourth failed 47-53.

The votes are the result of a deal after Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut filibustered for almost 15 hours Wednesday and Thursday in response to the shooting that killed 49 people and wounded 53.

Murphy yielded the floor Thursday just after 2 a.m., saying Republican leaders had promised votes on amendments to expand background checks and ban gun sales to suspected terrorists. The two Republican amendments are alternatives to the Democratic proposals.

After the four votes failed, Murphy released the following statement:

Today’s votes would never have occurred were it not for the loud voices of the American people echoing through the halls of the Capitol last week. After the deadliest shooting in American history, Senate Republicans weren’t even going to discuss, let alone vote on, measures to stop this endless mass murder enveloping our country. So on Wednesday, I took a stand with nearly 40 of my colleagues to demand that Congress do something -- anything -- to stop the slaughter of innocent victims of gun violence. Millions of Americans engaged in the debate and made their voices heard.

I’m disappointed by the results tonight, but far from surprised. We knew breaking the NRA’s stranglehold on this Congress would be a long, uphill climb. The fact is Americans want a background check system that prevents dangerous people and terrorists from getting their hands on guns. It will take time, but I firmly believe that our democracy does not allow a Congress to be this far out-of-step with the views and values of the people for very long. This country is rising up to demand stronger, safer gun laws, and in the fact of unspeakable tragedy, our movement for change got stronger this week.

Gov. Dan Malloy also released a statement in wake of both the Senate's vote and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Connecticut's assault weapon ban:

When it comes to guns, Connecticut continues to lead time and time again.  On a day in which the Supreme Court upheld the smartest gun law in the nation here in our state, we see Congressional Republicans in Washington vote down these basic, commonsense amendments to make Americans safer.

The senators who voted against this legislation tonight should be ashamed, not only for voting against the vast majority of Americans who overwhelmingly support these commonsense policies, but also for putting their own interests before safety.  It’s simple – everyone should have to pass a background check, and if a person is on a watch list because of suspected terrorist activities and cannot board an airplane, then we should not be selling them military-style assault weapons.  Enough is enough.  Yet, this Republican Congress has again failed to act and has stood in the way of meaningful, commonsense steps to make us safer.  It is as discouraging as it is baffling.

I applaud Senator Murphy, Senator Blumenthal, and our entire federal delegation for helping us get to this point.  While the vote is disappointing, the fact that there even were votes on commonsense gun safety proposals is due directly to their leadership.