Early Thursday morning saw the end of a 15-hour filibuster calling for a vote on gun control. It has become a topic of national conversation, so who is Chris Murphy, the Connecticut senator who led the effort? His filibuster focused on two proposed gun control amendments: one which would prevent individuals who have been on a terrorist watch list from buying guns, and another which will intensify background checks for gun purchases.
Chances are the exhaustive effort is just the beginning of his political stardom. More often than not, politicians who have led filibusters have remained household names. Some of them, including Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, have even gone on to run for president. These premature speculations have America asking a barrage of questions about Murphy.
Murphy took office as junior senator of Connecticut in 2013, after Joe Lieberman retired. Before serving in the Senate, he served three terms in the House of Representatives and eight years in the Connecticut General Assembly. He attended Williams College, Oxford and the University of Connecticut School of Law. He married Cathy Holahan in 2007, the year he began his political career, and they have two children.
Prior to the filibuster, Murphy wasn't a high-profile member of Congress. But after Sunday morning's mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, he decided to voice an opinion he's passionately held for years. He's promoted stricter government oversight of guns since his first year in office. Shortly after being elected in 2012, a gunman opened fire at an elementary school in his state, killing 20 children and six adults.
Just a month into his term, it became clear that confronting gun violence would be one of his top priorities. In January 2013, Murphy invoked Sandy Hook while criticizing Apple for labeling an NRA-produced shooting game as appropriate for children as young as four years of age. He didn't refrain from full-force candidness in his statement:
The NRA seems intent on continuing to insult the families of the victims of Sandy Hook. How could they think it was a good idea to use the one month anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook to release a game that teaches four year olds to shoot assault weapons?
About a week later, he attended a round table discussion about gun violence in Connecticut and around the nation. During the talk, Murphy promoted banning high-capacity magazines, which was one component of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Portions of his filibuster suggested that his stance on these issues has not budged an inch. In fact, Murphy ended his nearly 15-hour-long testimony by remembering the victims at Sandy Hook:
Clearly, in my mind, there is no reason why anyone should have access to a military-style assault weapon or a magazine clip that holds 30 or 100 bullets. I believe in my heart that there would be little boys and girls still alive today in Sandy Hook, Connecticut if the federal assault weapons ban was still in place and if that young man re-armed himself every 10 bullets instead of every 30 bullets.
After his call was ignored by House Republicans and several more mass shootings occurred, the senator threw out his filter and sharply criticized members of Congress for expressing their condolences, yet refusing to take action. Vox's Zack Beauchamp interviewed Murphy after the San Bernardino attack in 2015. The senator said that his colleagues need to "get off their ass."
Many of my colleagues are covering over their cowardice and their fealty to the gun lobby by tweeting out sympathies ... I'm sick. I'm sick and tired of listening to my colleagues check a box with a sympathetic tweet and then go back into hibernation.
According to The Washington Post, Murphy has since delivered 45 speeches addressing gun violence in America. As it turns out, his filibuster was a long time coming, and it's likely he will now become a household name for his fight for gun control reform.