The Senate could vote as early as today on several measures aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of suspected terrorists, after a nearly 15-hour “talk-a-thon” led by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy that lasted through much of the night.
The votes would come days after a man who had pledged allegiance to ISIS killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub.
A bill presented by Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., and favored by many Democrats, seeks to prevent anyone on a terrorist watch list from buying a gun.
Feinstein’s bill would also give the U.S. attorney general the ability to block known or suspected terrorists, even if the individual is not on any watch lists, if there were “reasonable belief” that the person could use the weapon for terrorism.
Many Republicans oppose Feinstein's bill as a violation of due process because innocent people sometimes end up on terror watch lists, so her bill would possibly deny people the right to purchase a firearm even if they are erroneously on the list.
As an alternative to the Feinstein bill, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has put forward a bill that would instead place a 72-hour delay on anyone on terrorist watch lists from obtaining a firearm.
Within that 72-hour period, federal authorities would have the opportunity to present a court order to block the individual from buying a gun if there is reason to believe the individual poses a threat.
Another bill that has been proposed -- from Sens. Murphy of Connecticut, Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. -- aims to close the so-called “gun show loophole” by mandating that firearm sales at gun shows and over the internet are subject to background checks.
While no voting is yet underway, Murphy’s so-called talk-a-thon served as a Democratic rallying cry to move forward on gun safety.
Murphy, whose state was rocked by the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, told the story of a Sandy Hook student Dylan Hockley -- who died in the embrace his teacher Anne-Marie Murphy -- in closing out his marathon Senate floor appearance.
"It doesn't take courage to stand here on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” Murphy said in the early-morning hours, a large photo of Dylan on a canvas beside him.
“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?”