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Connecticut U.S. Senators Step Up Pressure Over Guns

Sen. Murphy
Sen. Murphy
Sen. Murphy

Connecticut’s Democratic U.S. Senators are hoping to bring a new round of attention to proposed federal gun control measures.

Thursday marks a year since the Democratic-run House passed the Background Check Expansion Act, and Senator Chris Murphy says despite support from Americans, the bill has languished in the Republican-led Senate ever since.

“I will be offering a motion on the floor likely next week to bring HR8 up for an immediate vote,” he said. “I suspect that Senator McConnell or another Republican will object, but we’re not going to stop in our efforts to get this common sense gun safety legislation passed.”

Murphy and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal held a conference call this week to preview their pressure campaign.

They say there is rare unity among the Democratic presidential candidates on guns, and they are hoping to shame Republicans over the issue this election year.

Murphy said he was having discussions with the White House about the background checks bill, but they suddenly stopped last summer. He said he spoke with “high-level” White House staffers in recent weeks about renewing negotiations, but they were noncommittal.

“I would categorize the response I got, was not a green light but not a red light, and I’m planning to reach back out to them in coordination with this one-year anniversary to see if I can get a more definitive answer,” Murphy said.

HR8 would require a background check for all firearm purchases in the U.S., and would keep people who aren’t legally allowed to buy guns from purchasing them.

Blumenthal says background checks are just the start.

“I have authored and advocated for an emergency risk protection bill, which we have really gotten to the 3-yard line on with the White House, Sen. Graham and I, a draft bill that could easily get approval, and I’m still hopeful on those negotiations continuing on that bill,” he said. “I’m still hopeful that we will pass Ethan’s Law, which I’ve also introduced, requiring safe storage, a ban on assault weapons, and end to the sweetheart immunity deal for gun manufacturers, closing the Charleston loophole. The American public wants, desperately demands, these kind of common sense reforms.”

Murphy and Blumenthal — who have been taking the lead on many gun control matters following the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 — admit Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unlikely to advance any gun control legislation.      

On another subject, neither Senator is ready to make an endorsement in the presidential primary.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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