U.S. Sen. Gary Peters participates in Senate filibuster over gun control
Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., took the Senate floor on Wednesday as part of a Democratic filibuster meant to draw attention to gun control issues in the wake of Sunday's mass shooting in Orlando, in which 49 people at a gay nightclub were killed by a gunman using a legally purchased assault rifle.
Peters said the circumstances surrounding the shooting were complex, but the Senate must do more to institute universal background checks for prospective gun-buyers and stop individuals on terrorist watch lists from buying weapons.
"Complexity is not an argument for inaction," Peters said. "We need to start somewhere. Thoughts and prayers can be meaningful, and are certainly powerful. But we need to do more than just offer our thoughts and prayers. Now is the time for action."
Peters began his remarks by calling attention to Tevin Crosby, 25, and Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32, two former Michigan residents who were among the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
Watch his remarks below:
He went on to say that the fight for LGBT rights in America can't end with marriage equality.
"This horrific incident raises a number of questions," Peters said. "Was it a hate crime? An act of terrorism? An outgrowth of ease (with which) individuals in this country can purchase deadly weapons with high-capacity magazines?"
The answer to all of the above, Peters said, was yes.
Peters' comments came as part of a floor takeover orchestrated by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who began the filibuster as the Senate attempted to consider an appropriations bill. Murphy referenced the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 as he advocated for gun control measures to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists.
"I can't tell you how hard it is to look into the eyes of the family 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," Murphy said.
The filibuster is ongoing, with NPR's Muthoni Muturi reporting that senators have signed up to speak as late as 10:30 p.m.