A picture of Senator Christopher Murphy
Christopher M.
Democrat CT

About Sen. Christopher
  • Student Success Act—Conference Report

    by Senator Christopher Murphy

    Posted on 2015-12-08

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    MURPHY. Mr. President, I am here to join my colleagues in our call to bring for debate and vote on the Senate floor a measure that is supported, I would argue, by probably 95 to 99 percent of my constituents, and that is the simple idea that if you are on a terrorist watch list, if you are suspected of being involved in terrorist activities, you shouldn't be able to purchase a gun. I will be asking for a unanimous consent agreement in order to move this debate to the floor.

    Here is why it matters. What we know right now is that over the last 12 [[Page S8456]] months ISIS has lost about 25 percent of their territory in Iraq and Syria. That is not good enough, and hopefully we will be able to join together to put even more pressure on the so-called caliphate, to shrink it down eventually to elimination. But the growth of ISIS is dependent on two narratives. One is a narrative that the so-called caliphate is growing, and second, the narrative that the East is at war with the West, that the Muslim world is at war with the Christian world. As the first narrative becomes less powerful, the second one becomes even more important. So, as shocking as Paris was, as shocking as San Bernardino was, it is not surprising in the respect that these attacks outside of Syria and Iraq are now becoming more important, more necessary to this terror organization in order to perpetuate this second set of mythology around the Islamic world being at war with the Christian world.

    Now is the moment that Republicans and Democrats have to come together around hardening our country from potential attackers and potential attacks and recognize that because these attacks may be more important than ever before to the future expansion of ISIS, we have to take steps to make sure they don't occur. One of the simplest ways we can do that is embodied in Senator Feinstein's piece of legislation. Let's just say together that those who are on the terrorist watch list--and this is a list you get on if you have reason for the FBI or other law enforcement to believe you are affiliated in some way, shape, or form with a terrorist organization. You may not have committed a crime yet, but you have had communications or affiliations with terrorist organizations. Let's just agree that people on that list should by default be prohibited from buying guns.

    Importantly, the bill has in it provisions that would allow for those individuals to get off that list, to be able to say that they were put on it mistakenly. But let's say as a default premise that if you are on a terrorist watch list, you shouldn't be able to purchase a gun.

    Recent polling tells us that the vast overwhelming majority of Americans support this law. In addition, the vast overwhelming majority of American gun owners support this law, in part because they have seen statistics. It bears repeating. My colleagues have talked about these numbers, but they really are stunning.

    Over the last 10 years, someone on the terrorist watch list has attempted to purchase a weapon 2,223 times. In 2,043 of those instances, they were successful in purchasing the weapon, taking it home. That is a 91-percent success rate. It may be that 1 or 2 of those 2,000 shouldn't have been on that list, but this legislation gives them the power to contest that and to get off that list eventually, as it should. But let's not live in a fantasy world in which the majority of people on that list shouldn't be there. The list isn't foolproof, but the vast majority--95 percent, 99 percent--of those on the terrorist watch list are there with reason, and they shouldn't be able to walk out of a store with a weapon. That is why three-quarters of gun owners and 90 percent of Americans support this legislation.

    While today it has become partisan--Republicans are standing almost in lockstep against a bill that stops terrorists from getting guns-- historically this has been bipartisan. This was initially proposed by President Bush and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Let's make it bipartisan again. Today on the floor of the Senate, let's decide that we are going to have a debate on this and that we are going to bring it for a vote because that is where the majority of our constituents are. They want us to take steps together to stop terrorists from getting guns.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.

    Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Judiciary Committee be discharged from further consideration of S. 551 and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration; I further ask that the bill be read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? The majority whip.

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