Pressure is mounting to ditch the filibuster and pass gun reform after back-to-back mass shootings in the US
- Calls to end the Senate filibuster have intensified after two mass shootings in one week in the US.
- Activists say trashing the filibuster is the only way to pass gun reform in the Senate.
- A growing number of Democrats have voiced their support for filibuster elimination or reform.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
After 18 people were killed in two high-profile mass shootings within a week in the US, calls to abolish the filibuster have been intensifying among activists and Democratic politicians as a necessary step to pass gun reform.
Ten people were killed in a Boulder, Colorado, King Soopers grocery store after a gunman opened fire Tuesday afternoon. That tragedy came only one week after a man shot and killed 8 people in three Atlanta-area massage parlors on March 16.
As the country slowly crawls back toward normality after a year of pandemic-related lockdowns, mass shootings — an undeniable reality of American life — seem to be back in full force.
Police said Tuesday Ahmad Alissa, the man charged in the Boulder shooting, bought a semi-automatic rifle less than a week before Monday’s massacre, and in Atlanta, accused gunman Robert Aaron Long allegedly bought the gun he’s suspected of using to murder eight people the day of the shooting.
Neither Colorado nor Georgia has a waiting period when it comes to purchasing firearms. In fact, just 10 US states and Washington, DC, have any type of law requiring a waiting period between the time a person attempts to purchase a gun and when they are able to take possession of the weapon, Insider’s Connor Perrett reported.
The dual tragedies have once again reinvigorated calls for comprehensive, federal gun control. But this time, proponents have zeroed in on a tangible first step: eliminate the filibuster.
Calls to gut the filibuster — the Senate rule that requires 60 votes rather than a simple majority of 51 to pass most legislation — have been ramping up since Democrats took control of Congress in January.
Supporters argue doing so is the only way to push forward a progressive agenda, including an increased minimum wage, student-loan forgiveness, and now, gun control.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted her support for nuking the rule following Monday’s shooting.
Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Texas politician Julian Castro echoed their support.
Castro told CNN the recent shootings are just one more example of why the country needs “significant filibuster reform” that makes it easier for “effective, meaningful legislation” like gun control to be enacted.
Merkley said if Republicans won’t “get on board” with common-sense gun safety legislation, “we should abolish the filibuster and get it done.”
Democratic rising star and Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman tweeted his support.
And the former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich delivered a concise message.
In a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Tuesday, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois said Congress’ refusal to pass gun legislation has made it complicit in recent violence, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Even with the Democrats’ narrow control of both chambers, passing any type of gun legislation in the Senate is unlikely. Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans on board in order to bypass the filibuster.
Nuking the filibuster could prove to be an equally insurmountable task as at least two moderate Democratic senators have voiced their opposition to doing so. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia declared earlier this year he would “never” change his mind on the filibuster and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has also said she’s against dismantling the Senate staple.
The growing list of Democratic supporters, however, could mean an opportunity to at least reform the filibuster, rather than abolishing it entirely.
But for the people who suffer the consequences of gun violence, action can’t come soon enough. Fred Guttenberg, a gun-control activist and father of a student murdered in the 2018 Parkland school shooting said the recent gun violence was both predictable and inevitable.
“End the filibuster,” Guttenberg tweeted Tuesday. “Gun safety needs to move forward without them.”
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