Sunday morning's mass shooting at gay nightclub Pulse Orlando prompted an outpouring of vocal support for gun control legislation. Just days after the attack that left 49 innocent people dead, President Obama called for the reinstatement of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. An intensely heated debate over gun control along with a Republican-controlled Congress rendered his request unlikely. In response, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy took a different route, which resulted in small steps forward for Democrats.
For nearly 15 hours, he successfully filibustered House Republicans to hold a vote on two gun control amendments, ending Congress' period of inaction on the matter. He told Congress:
I can't tell you how hard it is to look into the eyes of the families of those little boys and girls who were killed in Sandy Hook and tell them that almost four years later, we have done nothing — nothing at all — to reduce the likelihood that that will happen again to another family … This isn't new to me, but I am at my wit's end. I have had enough. I have had enough of the ongoing slaughter of innocents, and I have had enough of inaction in this body.
A number of other bills — aside from the two on which Murphy focused — are stuck in the lineup, waiting to be heard by Congressional members. In fact, the Washington Post reported that according to Congress.gov, 227 firearm-related pieces of legislation were introduced in 2015 alone. Some of them are included in the following list, along with suggestions on how you can support them if you agree that something needs to be done.
1) Keeping Guns From High Risk Individuals Act
This piece of legislation was introduced in February 2015 following the San Bernardino attack. Otherwise known as H.R. 226, it would amend the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and make it illegal to sell a firearm to anyone who's been convicted of a violent crime in the past.
2) Federal Assault Weapons Ban
The federal assault weapons ban, which was in place from 1994 until 2004, makes it illegal to possess high-capacity magazines and certain makes and models of semiautomatic weapons. Of all pieces of legislation, this is the most high-profile one, but has a slim chance of making it through a Republican-controlled Congress.
3) Denying Firearms And Explosives To Dangerous Terrorists Act Of 2015
Essentially, this is one of two bills Senator Murphy successfully convinced Republicans to at least vote on in the near future. It would make it illegal to issue a federal firearms and explosives license to any person whom the government deems a suspected terrorist. This became a concern after FBI announced it had investigated the Orlando gunman three times before the attack.
4) Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey used Murphy's filibuster as an opportunity to push for the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would prohibit the purchase or possession of a firearm to anyone convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime. The fact that the mass shooting in Orlando occurred in a gay nightclub rendered the bill especially relevant.
5) Congress Must Pass Comprehensive Legislation To Make Our Communities Safer From Gun Violence
Senator Murphy published this petition after his filibuster ended. Though it doesn't address one bill in particular, it's an overarching request to Congress to simply take action on the matter. Anyone can contribute their signature.
6) Fix Gun Checks Act of 2016
This particular bill sets out to improve the background check system by making it both consistent and reliable. Under it, a background check would be required for every firearm sale, and names of people who not allowed to buy firearms should be clearly listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
7) Background Check Completion Act
Murphy's counterpart, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, sponsored this bill, which would mandate that gun dealers complete background checks before transferring a gun to anyone.
8) Mental Health Access And Gun Violence Prevention Act Of 2016
This bill seeks to both make mental health more accessible and promote the reporting of mental health information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
9) Gun Show Loophole Closing Act
Under the currently enforced gun laws, there are various loopholes that allow gun dealer to sell guns to people they shouldn't. This act was introduced with the intention of regulating who and who cannot operate gun shows.