A U.S. senator's filibuster helped nudge the government toward action on gun control.

At 11:21 a.m. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, Sen. Chris Murphy took the floor of the Senate, vowing not to leave until his colleagues agreed to take action on gun control.

For nearly 15 hours, Murphy — with the help of more than 30 other senators — delivered a series of speeches in hopes of getting the Senate to take action on two amendments. The first amendment would require background checks for guns purchased online or at gun shows and the second would be on whether or not to prevent people on the "no fly" terror watch list from buying guns.

It was a long shot, but after the massacre in Orlando, Murphy wasn't about to sit idly by.


Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images.

The filibuster's most powerful moment came at its closing when Murphy shared the story of Dylan Hockley, a 6-year-old who was killed during the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.

Dylan was one of 20 students who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. Dylan's teacher Anne Marie Murphy (no relation to the senator) died trying to shield the child from gunfire.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Sen. Murphy challenged his colleagues to follow in the footsteps of Dylan's brave teacher.

"Anne Marie Murphy made the most courageous decision that anyone could imagine," said Senator Murphy. "Instead of running, instead of hiding, instead of panicking, Anne Marie Murphy found Dylan Hockley and embraced him. Know why we know that? When the police entered the classroom, that’s how they found Dylan Hockley. Dead. Wrapped in the embrace of Anne Marie Murphy."

"It doesn’t take courage to stand here on the floor of the United States Senate for two hours or six hours or 14 hours. It doesn’t take courage to stand up to the gun lobby when 90% of your constituents want change to happen. It takes courage to look into the eye of a shooter and instead of running, wrapping your arms around a 6-year-old boy and accepting death as a trade for just a tiny little bitty piece of increased peace of mind for a little boy under your charge."

GIF via C-SPAN.

By night's end, Murphy got what he wanted: assurance that the Senate would hold votes on the amendments.

It's doubtful either will pass, but getting these amendments to the floor for an up or down vote is a strong start. The NRA stands in opposition to both amendments. GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, however, supports banning members of the terrorist watch list and says he plans to speak with the gun advocacy group.

We need to fight against the impulse to by cynical. We need to believe that change can happen.

It's a huge and welcome relief to see Murphy and his colleagues in the Senate working to make that change happen.

Orlando, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood, San Bernardino, Aurora — the list of preventable gun tragedies goes on. It's easy to feel cynical, to lose hope for change. After all, the country didn't take any meaningful action on gun control after 20 children were gunned down in Newtown.

But on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, Chris Murphy showed that while sweeping change might still be a ways off, change is possible.

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Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

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