Gaining control of the floor during discussion of an unrelated spending bill, Democrats led by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy successfully defended their position until earning concessions.
Murphy, a Connecticut lawmaker who represents the Newtown area among others, began his standing filibuster at 11:21 a.m. EDT Wednesday and relinquished the floor Thursday morning at 2:11 a.m. The total elapsed time was 14 hours and 50 minutes, making it the eighth longest in modern history.
In the end, Murphy walked away after earning what he said were promises from Republican leaders to hold votes on legislation focusing on mandating universal background checks for gun transfers and prohibiting individuals on terror watch lists from being able to legally purchase firearms and explosives.
“I am prepared to stand on the Senate floor and talk about the need to prevent gun violence for as long as I can. I’ve had #Enough,” Murphy posted to social media Wednesday hours before he took the floor.
During the filibuster, no less than 37 Democrats tapped in and spoke on the subject of gun control, joined by two Republicans — Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — as well as Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada gave a window into the process that led to Murphy’s stand down.
“Senator Murphy got the world’s attention. And eventually, he got the attention of Senate Republicans,” said Reid in a statement. “In the early morning hours, Senator McConnell and I spoke and he gave me a commitment that Republicans would allow votes on two important gun safety measures: legislation to expand background checks and the measure to close the ‘terror loophole,’ preventing terrorists from walking into a gun store and buying all the firearms and explosives they want.”
Gun control groups cheered the junior senator from Connecticut on throughout the evening.
The Trace, a journalism start-up affiliated with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg with a decidedly gun control slant, posted a running commentary on the filibuster across social media.
Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Some fights are too important to stay silent. Preventing gun violence is one of them. Stand strong,” in support of Murphy during his remarks.
The National Rifle Association, who during the filibuster announced they would meet with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump over possible watch list gun restrictions allowing for due process, also posted alerts to its members to contact their Congressional delegation advising votes are forthcoming that “will attempt to strip the Second Amendment Rights from those on secret government lists while another could lead to federal registration of all gun owners.”
When ranked against the other filibusters made since 1900 when Congress started keeping detailed records, Murphy’s 14:50 effort narrowly beat out one by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, against the use of drones against American citizens in 2013, but fell short of the more than 15-hour effort made by Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, R-NY, in 1992 over tax reform and six other historical stands. Democrat Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 24-hour speech against the Civil Rights Act in 1957 holds the record.
The Senate resumes its normal session at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Members of Everytown are set to join Murphy, along with Sens. Chuck Schumer and Richard Blumenthal in the Capitol at 11 a.m. for a new conference. According to a press release sent by the group to Guns.com, they will ask that Congress give the the FBI the authority to block gun sales to suspected terrorists, prohibit people convicted of violent hate crimes from possessing guns; and require a background check for every gun sale.