Senate Democrats claimed a small victory early on Thursday, forcing the U.S. upper house to consider legislation to help keep guns out of the hands of terrorism suspects.
The move, which could break a years-long logjam on gun control, follows demands for action after the weekend massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Florida.
Democrats took to the floor of the Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday to launch a procedural obstruction, known as a filibuster, to press colleagues to accept the so-called 'no-fly no buy' legislation.
Under it, people on watch lists or no-fly lists would be barred from buying firearms.
The filibuster was led by Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where a 2012 school shooting left 20 children dead.
“I’m at my wits’ end,” said Murphy, as he began yesterday morning his hours-long takeover. “I’m going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together.”
Murphy, with support from 40 senators including Republican Pat Toomey, spent hours discussing ways to reduce gun violence.
At 1:53 am (local time) on Thursday he claimed victory on Twitter. “I am proud to announce that after 14+ hours on the floor, we will have a vote on closing the terror gap & universal background checks,” Murphy wrote.
The chamber’s Republican and Democratic leaders agreed “on a path forward to get votes... on a measure to assure that those on the terrorist watch list do not get guns,” as well as an amendment that would expand background checks to sales at gun shows and on the internet, Murphy said.
The filibuster “captured the attention of our nation,” Booker said early on Thursday. “How many of our children’s dreams must be destroyed by gun violence before we do the common-sense things that we agree on to begin to shrink those numbers?” he asked. “When you attack one American you attack us all.”
A Senate measure that would have stopped FBI terror suspects from buying firearms and explosives failed in December, with every Senate Republican but one voting in opposition.
Some Republicans appear to be reconsidering, including congressman Bob Dold, who is locked in a tough re-election fight in Illinois.