The Last Gun Control Filibuster Before Sen. Chris Murphy's Didn't End So Well

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 06: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee member Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) (C) questions Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz during a hearing about the potential modernization of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill October 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. Created in the wake of the 1973 energy crisis, the reserve is supposed to make sure the U.S. economy will not be hurt by an embargo or sharp price spike and Moniz estimates that $2 billion will be needed for distribution work and other technical upgrades. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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For everybody enraptured by junior Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy and company's impassioned filibuster in favor of increased gun control legislation, it might be interesting to go back to the last time there was a filibuster related to gun control. Remember the time a GOP "filibuster" blocked background check legislation?

Now, it wasn't a filibuster in the true sense, like the one Senators Murphy, Warren, Booker, and others are participating in. This was a situation in which the GOP majority in the Senate required a 60-vote threshold for a bill to pass, instead of a simple majority. A coalition of 48 Democrats, four Republicans, and two independent senators voted 54-46 in favor of Senate Vote 97, the Manchin-Toomey Amendment to the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013. It was created in the wake of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, which left 20 schoolchildren dead.

The bill would have expanded background checks for all gun purchases, expanded grants for school safety, and set up increased penalties for arms trafficking and straw man purchases. The amendment ended would have simply required individuals who were prohibited from owning firearms to be instantly added to the National Instant Background Check Database.

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The Manchin-Toomey amendment is part of what is being discussed in the Democratic filibuster on the Senate floor. Enacting universal background checks and creating a national list of all individuals who are not allowed to purchase firearms would be a major step forward in reducing the risk of mass shootings. 

It is true that this particular law wouldn't have been able to prevent the perpetrator of the Pulse nightclub shooting from acquiring his arsenal, since he was no longer under investigation. However, that shouldn't excuse any further inaction on common-sense gun control legislation. 

Holding bills hostage by requiring a 60-vote threshold to overcome the threat of a filibuster is a cowardly parliamentarian maneuver by the GOP majority, and an anti-democratic one at that. Here's hoping that the bipartisan coalition of Senators who supported the original Manchin-Toomey amendment, and the rest of the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, support their colleagues currently standing up to help create a safer America.

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