U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy filibusters on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Washington – As a 16-year-old gunman assaulted fellow students at a high school in Santa Clarita, Calif., Thursday morning, Sen. Chris Murphy tried to force a vote in the U.S. Senate on a gun background check bill.

Murphy was unaware at the time of the latest mass shooting. But he predicted it.

“We can’t go 24 hours without news of another mass shooting somewhere in America,” Murphy said as he asked for support from his Senate colleagues. “My kids and millions of others hide in corners of their classroom or in their bathrooms preparing for a mass shooting at their school and this body does nothing about it.”

Murphy, a longtime advocate of various gun-control measures, this time wanted the U.S. Senate to vote on H.R.8, a bill the Democratic-led U.S. House approved in February. He tried to force a vote by asking unanimous consent of the senators on the floor, a procedure that would do an end run of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who says the Senate will not vote on any gun bill that does not have President Donald Trump’s approval.

But Murphy’s effort was blocked by an objection from Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.

“Many questions about this legislation need to be answered before it’s forced upon law-abiding gun owners,” she said. “If I wanted to give my best friend’s son or grandson my hunting rifle, would we first have to appear before a licensed gun dealer and go through a lengthy and potentially expense background check?”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said “we ought to be furious, not just frustrated, but furious at the sad objection to moving forward.” He then announced to his Senate colleagues that there was an active shooter in a school in Santa Clarita.

A 16-year-old  Saugus High School student had pulled a gun from his backpack and opened fire on classmates before turning the gun on himself, law enforcement authorities said. Two students, a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, died at a hospital and the shooter was in grave condition.

Despite the increasing numbers of mass shootings, the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups have persuaded Trump to back away from some of the initiatives, including an expansion of background checks the president once endorsed. And the latest school shooting isn’t likely to end Congress’ stalemate on guns, or the rancorous debate in Connecticut.

Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League,  said “once again two U.S. Senators are grandstanding for gun control before any facts are sorted out.”

“Today we have families that have lost children in a so-called ‘gun free zone.’ Neither senator is calling for corrective legislation to deal with these types of failed policies,” Wilson said. He also observed that the current background check system did not stop the Saugus High School shooter from gaining access to a firearm.

Those who support expanded background checks say they might not stop every shooter, but would  stop some dangerous people from obtaining weapons.

The House background check bill Murphy tried to bring to the Senate floor is comprehensive. It  would expand FBI background checks to sales at gun shows and by individuals over the internet. Currently, under federal law, only licensed gun dealers must perform background checks for anyone seeking to purchase a firearm.

Murphy has been working with Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va , and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., on a more modest bill and has been seeking support from the White House for that legislation.

Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday said discussions about any new background-check legislation have been sidetracked by the impeachment process on Capitol Hill.

“The impeachment proceedings right now are in the House of Representatives,” Murphy said.  “The discussion on the future of a background check bill was in the Senate. It is happening between myself and Senator Manchin and Senator Toomey. We are still at the table ready to negotiate a compromise version of a background checks expansion act, and we’ve frankly got lots of time on our hands in the Senate.”

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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6 Comments

  1. Murphy and Blumenthal have got to go. We cannot abide Senators that want to deny us our civil rights.

  2. When the Democrats decide that they want to actually want to report to work and do the business of the American people rather than endlessly attempting to overturn the 2016 Presidential election, then and only then will they have something to complain about.

  3. The Dickey Amendment (1996) states “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the CDC may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” While research wasn’t banned, the CDC has stopped researching gun violence as a health issue for fear of reprisal.

    The Tiahrt Amendement prevents the ATF from releasing firearm tracing data–how illlegal firearms flow from manufacture, to sale, to use.

    If the Federal government would stop putting up roadblocks to researching gun violence as a health issue, maybe we could get the facts, then we could work towards a solution that appeals to both sides of the debate.

    1. If civil rights were a “health issue” then maybe some of that would make sense.

    2. Health issue? You need the CDC to tell you that if someone is shot in a critical area it threatens their health? The CDC has no place here other than to waste time and resources. BOTH sides of the gun debate will not give an inch because BOTH sides are being dishonest whenever dialogue takes place. Any study by the CDC will not change a single mind and will further entrench each side in their ideology. We live in a death culture, war is our business and exporting weapons to the rest of the world is a line on our profit and loss statement. The country that we are today puts very little value on life. Don’t expect change any time soon.

  4. I surprised that Sen Murphy is so upset. Even if the senate and the president wanted any further background checks the House would not vote on it because of the impeachment.

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