Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts joined Senate Democrats in a filibuster Wednesday in a push for Republicans to take action on gun control in light of the recent mass shooting in Orlando.
Led by Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the talking filibuster (technically, a Senate hold) was launched during a debate about an unrelated spending bill.
Senate Democrats said the filibuster would continue until they received a “signal” that Senate Republicans would take action to deny firearms to suspected terrorists and to require universal background checks.
“I’m going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together on these two measures,” Murphy said, according to Politico.
When Warren took to the floor Wednesday afternoon, in wake of the shooting’s targeting of a gay nightclub, she recalled taking part in Boston’s Pride Parade over the weekend.
“When I go, I don’t march, I dance,” she said, using the 46th annual celebration of local LGBT pride to pivot to the larger theme of inclusiveness. “It shows us what this nation looks like when we beat back hate and embrace each other.”
The Bay State senior senator said the Orlando shooting “cannot be ignored” as a terrorist act targeting the LGBT community, but additionally mentioned that the tragedy underscored the importance of making sure counter-terrorism agencies are properly resourced and to increase restriction on gun purchases.
“We can ban Rambo-style assault weapons. We can take these weapons of war off our streets,” said Warren, who was a co-sponsor of 2013 legislation to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Warren said she believes that the FBI should be authorized to block gun sales to suspected terrorists.
“If someone cannot get on an airplane because the FBI is concerned they might be plotting to do harm against Americans, then they shouldn’t be able to walk into a store and buy a Rambo-style assault weapon,” she said.
Warren also called for legislation banning individuals suspected of terrorism or with a history of mental illness from purchasing firearms.
“If we fail to act,” Warren said, “the next time someone uses a gun to kill one of us, a gun that we could have kept out of the hands of a terrorist, then the members of this Congress will have blood on our hands.”
Markey focused his remarks on the National Rifle Association, which he said was controlling Senate Republicans into rejecting these “common sense” gun restrictions.
“What kind of crazy position is that for the NRA to take? That potential terrorists should be allowed to buy guns in the U.S.,” he said.
In addition to those two issues, Markey called for funding research on the causes of gun violence. The Center for Disease Control, which funds research on a wide range of public health issues, has not researched gun violence since facing criticism from the NRA and Congress in the mid-1990s.
“Why can’t we find a way to at least fund the research on the causes of gun violence?” Markey said. “The answer is that the NRA does not want a single nickel to be spent on that issue. The NRA controls the agenda on the Senate floor with a vise-like grip and it will not let it go.”
What happened in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, is “sadly just a preview of coming attractions” unless the Senate acts, Markey said.