CT senators take new aim at gun control

Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy

Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy

Washington — A  year after a modest proposal to change gun laws failed in the Senate, Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy have switched tactics.

They plan to introduce a bill that would forbid anyone under a temporary restraining order from owning a gun.

“It’s just common sense that someone who is the subject of a temporary restraining order shouldn’t be able to buy a gun,” Murphy said.

Under current federal law, those under permanent court orders are barred from owning firearms, but not those under temporary court orders.

Blumenthal said that those under temporary court orders, often imposed when there’s a threat of violence, can be the most dangerous.

“That period is the height of vulnerability,” Blumenthal said. “That’s the point when violence is the most likely.”

The bill would require those under court order to surrender their weapons to law enforcement officials.

The Connecticut senators unveiled their legislation after meeting with former Rep. Gabrielle Gifford, the victim of a shooter who killed six people in a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz., and domestic violence policy advocates.

They collected 30,000 signatures on a petition the senators planned to take to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to prod him, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to hold a hearing on the new gun bill.

Leahy held hearings on several proposals introduced after Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Leahy also helped craft a compromise bill that was considered by the Senate a year ago. The bill was modest — it would have expanded FBI background checks of gun buyers to those who purchase weapons at gun shows and online. But the bill failed to win the 60 votes it needed to move forward.

Since that bill is stalled, Murphy said he and Blumenthal chose to promote the new gun bill.

An aide to Leahy said he is considering the request and plans to hold a hearing on the Violence Against Women Act in June.

“Congresswoman Giffords requested Senator Leahy hold a hearing on the issue of gun violence and violence against women, and he was of course happy to take this request,” said a Judiciary Committee aide .

Blumenthal called the legislation “narrow, discreet and common sense.”

He also said he is talking to GOP senators about the bill “and they are listening.”

“They are beginning to understand the political ramifications of sitting on the sidelines,” Murphy said.

Murphy also called Congress “complicit” in the recent rash of shootings because it has done nothing on gun control.

With Congress stalled on gun control, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has launched a $50 million campaign that  aims to make the political climate more supportive of gun control. The money would be used to form a group called  Everytown for Gun Safety, an umbrella organization for his two other gun control groups: Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

The Bloomberg campaign is taking a page from the playbook of the National Rifle Association by trying to build grass-root support while it tries to influence politicians with advertisements and political donations.

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