Gun control advocates and a number of Senate Democrats, including New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, hit the floor with intentions to filibuster until the Senate acts on gun control measures. Coming in the wake of Sunday's horrific attack which left 49 people dead at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the effort demonstrates the desperation felt by countless Americans as the number of mass shootings continues to rise.
It's a move with one goal in mind: disruption. Like the decision by several politicians to skip the once-requisite moment of silence following a tragedy, choosing not to the yield the floor and not to allow business to continue as usual is a move (albeit maybe a "Hail Mary" in the face of staunch opposition) to throw a wrench in a machine which remained indifferent after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Chattanooga. On Wednesday morning, as Murphy spoke on the floor, he seemed determined to put an end to the inaction, saying:
I’m going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together on these two measures, that we can get a path forward on addressing this epidemic in a meaningful, bipartisan way ...
Chris Harris, a spokesperson for Sen. Murphy, told Politico that Murphy and the Democrats "are holding the floor because they will not accept inaction or half measures in the face of continued slaughter ... Congress cannot sit on the sidelines while killers freely buy weapons to brutally murder the people Congress is supposed to be protecting."
It's undoubtedly uplifting to see representatives rise up to challenge the culture of hapless political indifference to gun violence that's emerged in recent years. One quote from journalist Dan Hodges has been reiterated after nearly every mass shooting in the last year: "in retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over."
But that's why it's essential that elected officials recognize that the responsibility given to them by the people also gives them room for action that rises far beyond the platitudes of "thoughts and prayers" and into the realm of policy. It's essential that they do what the filibustering senators are doing; that they continue to fight to shake the country loose from these horrific norms.