Saying gun control measures snubbed, Blumenthal, Murphy reject ‘sportsman bill’

Washington – Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy opposed moving ahead on a bill that would, among other things, expand the reach of shooting ranges on federal lands and expedite duck hunting permits, saying Congress should instead vote for gun control.

“I voted against advancing this bill because I fundamentally believe that before the Senate debates a proposal expanding the use of guns on federal lands, we should first address the plague of gun violence in our communities,” Murphy said in a statement. “Since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Congress has done nothing to prevent gun violence in our schools, in our homes, and on our streets. That should be our number one focus.”

The bill is sponsored by moderate Democrats facing tough re-election in “red” states this year, including Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

They needed the legislation to pass to help their chances of re-election. But Begich and Pryor abandoned Blumenthal and Murphy when the Senate tried to pass a modest gun control bill last year –and failed.

The bill would also exempt lead bullets and fishing tackle from federal regulations, reauthorize conservation programs and require federal officials to consider how land management affects the activities of hunting, fishing and shooting.

Opposition by Blumenthal and Murphy did not sink the bill. It cleared a procedural hurdle on a bipartisan vote.

But the bill was done in Thursday in a partisan fight over amendments.

Blumenthal and Murphy, however, have scheduled a press conference in Hartford Friday “to highlight efforts to oppose expansion of gun use until Congress acts to prevent gun violence.”

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