WEST HARTFORD, Conn. —
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) thinks Senate Republicans are lying when they say they don’t support a new gun legislation. After all, he said, pointing to a recent Public Policy Polling survey, even a plurality of Georgia voters support a ban on assault-style weapons.
So if certain gun control legislation comes up for a vote in the Senate this week, Murphy expects some Republicans to shift their positions, especially on a universal background check measure that polls consistently show has the support of more than nine in 10 Americans.
“Otherwise, they’re going to have a lot of people to answer to,” Murphy said here at an event where President Barack Obama delivered forceful remarks on the legislation he is urging Congress to pass.
Some of those people are the parents of the children slaughtered in December’s horrific elementary-school massacre in Newtown, Conn. Twelve of those families traveled back to Washington, D.C., with Obama on Monday night, and plan to spend this week pushing lawmakers to pass gun control legislation, specifically universal background checks and a limit on magazine capacity.
Murphy said that Newtown families are scheduled to meet with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle from Tuesday through Thursday.
“No one can explain the importance of gun violence legislation better than Newtown families. So it’s critical to have them there,” Murphy said. “A couple weeks ago, no one in Connecticut thought the state legislature could pass a ban on high-capacity magazines. And they did, in part because Newtown families mobilized and went to Hartford to push for a stronger law.
“So we’ve seen their effect in the state capitol. And I hope they will have a similar effect in Washington.”
An expansion of background checks does appear to have a glimmer of hope, as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has signed onto bipartisan negotiations for a bill to be brought to the floor. But at least 15 Senate Republicans have promised to filibuster any new gun legislation, a movement that was joined by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday.
Murphy praised Toomey’s entrance into the negotiations and said he heard good things about progress on a bill moving forward on Monday. But he cautioned that it would be unacceptable for a background-check bill to be watered down from certain provisions, including covering all commercial sales and an effective means of enforcement — paper records that many Republicans oppose.
Ultimately, Murphy said he felt that his and other Democratic Senators’ efforts would be considered a failure if the Senate didn’t at least pass a full, universal background check bill — one that includes checks that cover all current loopholes.
“I’d be really disappointed if we didn’t get universal background checks passed,” Murphy said. “But we have to be careful of a deal on background checks that goes backwards instead of forward. So a lot of us are going to be watching the negotiations going on right now to make sure that this is really going to be a step going forward.”
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