U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) took the Senate floor on Wednesday night and spoke during a filibuster calling for bipartisan gun control legislation.
“We should also debate and pass bipartisan legislation that denies firearms sales to known or suspected terrorists. This is simple American common sense,” Donnelly said Wednesday night. “This is what the American people expect of us. This is what we were elected to do.” (See the video people and the full transcript of Donnelly’s statements below.)
The filibuster started by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) lasted more than 14 hours before Senate Republicans agreed to allow votes on two separate gun control measures, the Associated Press reported. Senators are expected to vote on expanding background checks to gun shows and internet gun sales and banning people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns.
“Like all my colleagues on both side of the aisle, I was sick when I learned of the tragic shooting in Orlando. Since Sunday, like so many people, my thoughts have been with the families and with the friends of the victims, with the LGBT community, with the people of Orlando, with all Americans who are mourning the loss of loved ones at the hands of senseless gun violence. My thoughts are also with the parents across our nation who have to explain to our kids ‘how can something like this happen in our country?’ We were elected in this chamber to do a job: to discuss issues, to debate them and to vote. To vote on legislation that makes our communities and our country safer. I came to the floor tonight to participate in this discussion because we have a job to do and we have action to take. Sen. Murphy, I want to thank you for leading this effort. I am a supporter of the second amendment. I am also a person who believes it’s reasonable for all of us to consider smart and responsible ways to reduce gun violence. Those things are not in opposition to each other. Since I’ve come to the Senate, we’ve talked about mass shootings in Orlando, in San Bernardino, in Charleston and in (Murphy’s) home state of Newtown, Conn. The truth is, there is gun violence across this country every single day. No state is immune, including my home state of Indiana. Every victim of gun violence is someone’s mom or someone’s dad or someone’s sister or someone’s brother or someone’s son or someone’s daughter or someone’s husband or someone’s wife. And those lives are destroyed. There are bipartisan proposals we can consider today that can make a difference. They won’t solve every (problem), but we can save lives. We can start by considering the bipartisan proposal by Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey that strengthens our background check system to help prevent criminals and individuals with serious mental illnesses from getting guns. This legislation requires background checks for all commercial gun sales, whether they’re at a store or whether they’re at a gun show or whether they’re online. We should also debate and pass bipartisan legislation that denies firearms sales to known or suspected terrorists. This is simple American common sense. This is what the American people expect of us. This is what we were elected to do. If a person is on a terrorist watch list, they shouldn’t be able to buy a gun. It is that simple and that uncomplicated. It’s time to our job, to do our job as members of Congress, to confront the serious problem of gun violence in our country. To debate our options and to work to find solutions that help keep all Americans safe and to protect our individual rights. The members of this body, we have differences, but we shouldn’t have differences on this. We have also demonstrated that we can find common ground at critical times. I’m confident every member of this body agrees: we should keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, people with mental illnesses. This should not be controversial. I urge all my colleagues to come together on behalf of the American people who have blessed us with this opportunity to serve here and to stand up for them and to vote on these proposals. It is the very least we can do for those families, for the people we represent, and for the serious obligation and responsibility they have given to us to do these things. They expect us to do our job. It’s time for us to step up to the plate. And with all that in mind, I have a question for my good friend, the Senator from Connecticut. And the question is this: Senator, don’t we owe it to the victims of Orlando, the victims from your home state in Newtown, the victims of Charleston and to the victims of gun violence in all our states, to have a vote on these proposals which are bipartisan in every single way?”
Donnelly then went on to ask another question after Murphy’s answer.
“Senator, do you think we are underestimating in this body, that the Senators are underestimating the common sense of the American people? That they know terrorists shouldn’t be allowed to have these weapons, that they know it’s a danger to our kids, to our families? That we would do great credit to the American people, to have the faith in them, to believe in them, that they are ready to take these steps? That they are ready to see their senators to take these steps and to stand with us Because we all love our children, we all love our families, we all want to make sure that when they go out to be with their friends, that they come home safe like that. For all of our families, whether they’re Republican or Democrat. You know, we’re not red or we’re blue. We’re red, we’re white and we’re blue. We’re all Americans. We are one team, we are in this together. And doesn’t it seem to make sense that here, we ought to be able to reflect the will of the American people? And I think the American people are ready for this, Senator, don’t you?”