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Senator Wages 15-Hour Filibuster In Gun Control Push

June 16, 2016 1:34 p.m.

Senator Wages 15-Hour Filibuster In Gun Control Push


Renee Van Vechten, political science professor, University of the Redlands

Related Story: Senator Wages 15-Hour Filibuster In Gun Control Push


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Senator. Chris Murphy has been allowing about on two measures aimed at restricting access and expanding background checks on gun purchases. This was after Murphy and other Democrats held the Senate floor for about 15 hours. It was popularly referred to as a filibuster and it looked like one but as we will here, it did not technically fill the definition of a filibuster, especially the way that practice has evolved in the 21st century. Joining me is René Dan Becton political science professor at the University of Redlands.
Thank you for having me. Now this look like what we think of as a filibuster. Why was it not talking about that is really no bright line between an actual filibuster it a talk about which is what this pretty much is categorized as. A traditional filibuster is a procedural motion or in activity team to prevent a book from being taken on a piece of legislation. In this case it was actually just a very long winded way of trying to call attention to a measure -- these two amendment that Democrats really want to have considered -- about the control and they wanted to bring it to the American people's attention and to try to force votes on these bills. -- On these amendments. So in this case is actually to try to get something done rather than to prevent it.
Now the doctors have been used over and over again recently in the Senate but they are not the kind we would expect. They're not the movie kind.
Senators can start filibusters for pretty much any reason. Accepting 2013 -- leaders got together and said -- actually Harry Reid said we need to put a stop to filibusters that are being brought against nominees for very important positions in government so when a presidential nominee comes up, no longer traceable have been changed -- no longer can those particular people be filibustered.
As you said Renée, the filibuster is usually used to try to stop legislation even before it gets to the floor but in this case Democrats were trying to put a focus on two amendment that they want the Senate to vote on. Couldn't the Democrats do this any other way?
Well, they probably would not have gotten so much publicity as they did. Right? This is really the point of bringing a talk-athon about. They really wanted to bring as much attention and gather as much media focus as they could and witness the tweeting that was going on yesterday by Samantha bee and others who have really brought lots and lots of attention to this issue. Democrats certainly could have talked about this and gone on C-SPAN who watches C-SPAN?
Now I guess this is part of what you're going to tell me about this as well because we have seen tentative -- Senators Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders -- they have also taken the floor for prolonged periods of time to talk about issues they feel are of vital importance to the nation. These are not technically filibusters either.
Correct. They are technically not filibusters, but they achieve particular goals and that is to bring attention to an issue that usually is unrelated to whatever the bill on the floor is about. So -- do you expect we're going to be seeing more of this?
Absolutely. If you see something that works and in this case the Democrats did end up getting what they wanted. It was not just to get a bow on the Bell with these amendments, it was also to get attention really drawn into these issues. They are trying to take advantage of a window of opportunity that was opened up by the Orlando shooting. In 2007 something similar happened with the Virginia Tech shooting. At that time we had a loophole in the law that allowed people to go ahead and get guns even though they might have had a history of mental illness so Congress fairly quickly passed a law to strengthen those instant background checks. The Democrats are really hoping to capitalize on this opportunity to strengthen gun laws as they see fit. So considering --
So considering where we are now after this terrible shooting in Orlando the GOP voted out several congressional bills in September. Do you think now that they may indeed pass?
Probably not. They're going to take a boat and public pressure is certainly building but the breakdown of votes in the Senate is still the way that it has always been. Alesse can stage which really change your mind about these issues they will continue to vote the way they always have been voting. Democrats represent states that support gun control legislation and Republicans tend to come from states where there is really strong support for upholding second amendment rights so it is probably unlikely that diesel actually get past. It is possible, but if history is any guide, there won't be too much movement on it. Of course the other caveat here is -- it all depends on what actually gets proposed. See it and it sounds as if -- if nothing else -- it will get a vote at this point.
It will and what is not really being talked about right now is the details. There are a couple of proposals out there. Dianne Feinstein's bill -- a keepsake bell but it is really an amendment to be attached to a larger spending bill and Dianne Feinstein's proposal -- it is quite different than the one John Cornyn has proposed. John Cornyn would like to see a delay -- so if you are a person who goes to buy a gun on the Internet for example or maybe you are on a watchlist, the Department of Justice under his belt would have to actually -- would have the right to delay for three days and in the meantime go to the courts and asked the courts to stop this person from getting a gun. That is a pretty long process but Republicans believe that that will protect peoples rights to buy a gun and also protect people in case they happen to be erroneously placed on that watchlist.
I have been speaking with Renée Van Becton political science professor at University of Redlands and Renée thank you so much.
Thank you.