Published April 11. 2013 4:00AM
Connecticut's freshman U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy gave an impassioned speech from the floor of the Senate Wednesday, calling for support of gun control legislation in the wake of the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.
In his first speech on the Senate floor, Murphy stressed, "The worst reality is this: If we don't do something, right now, it's going to happen again."
Murphy illustrated the vast public support of gun control reform, producing statistics such as "87 percent of Americans think we should have universal background checks. … Two-thirds of Americans think we should restrict these high-capacity ammunition clips. … 76 percent of Americans believe that we should crack down on people who buy guns legally and go out and sell them in the community illegally."
He accused some in Congress of being out of step with the American public because "members of Congress have been listening to the wrong people," singling out the NRA for not advocating for its members and gun owners but rather, advocating for the gun industry that largely funds the NRA.
Murphy also spoke about how Congress has failed to hold a proper forum about rights, a focal point of the gun reform debate. Citing "rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," he added, "Liberty has got to also be about the right to be free from indiscriminate violence."
Listing his policy points, Murphy stated that guns should be available to people of sound mind without criminal records, that a "small number of guns are just too dangerous for retail sale," and that certain ammunition "too easily enables mass-slaughter."
Many Senate Republicans have pledged to filibuster the gun control bill, but U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he believed the filibuster threat would not come to pass. Blumenthal attributed his confidence to the lobbying efforts of Newtown families: "The families of Newtown have been profoundly and dramatically effective in impacting my colleagues in their direct face-to-face conversations, they've given a voice and face to gun violence that is moving and powerful beyond words. They've helped to turn the tide on ending the filibuster threat, which is the procedural obstacle to go forward."
Blumenthal told The Day that he is optimistic about the bill itself but also asserted that he is listening to his constituency.
"There are some details that need review, but I believe it will meet with positive reaction, and I am listening," he said. "I will be making my decisions, as I have in the past, by listening to law enforcement groups, Newtown families, and other victims as well as public safety advocates."
Blumenthal praised Wednesday's announcement that a bipartisan compromise on gun reform may have been struck, saying, "It seems to be a positive step in the right direction, and I am very encouraged by this bipartisan compromise."
He also applauded the leadership and bipartisanship of Connecticut's recent gun reform legislation.
"I am very proud and grateful that Connecticut is helping to lead the nation, in this specific provisions of this measure, which is now the strongest in the nation, but also in its bipartisan compromise, which I think we need here in Washington," Blumenthal said. "We need Republican votes in Washington and we have a real opportunity to achieve it."