Murphy starts new campaign fund to help gun control candidates

Sen. Chris Murphy speaks last month on legislation to expand background checks for gun purchasers.

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Sen. Chris Murphy speaks last month on legislation to expand background checks for gun purchasers.

Washington – Since Congress won’t pass any new gun control legislation, Sen. Chris Murphy is taking another tack – raising money for candidates who will support those bills in the next Congress.

Murphy and Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., have established the “Fund to End Gun Violence,” an effort to “bundle” contributions to U.S. House and Senate candidates who would support gun control bills.

“I think it’s disingenuous for us to focus our attention on the legislative process when it’s clear that Republicans do not want to pass anti-gun violence bills before November, so it’s time to give our attention to the elections,” Murphy said.

A measure that would bar gun purchases by those on the federal terrorist watch list foundered in the Senate, as did legislation that would expand FBI background checks of gun buyers. The House has not held a vote on a gun bill. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s effort to bring up a GOP-backed measure that would bar people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing a gun has stalled. The measure would require the FBI to get a warrant from a federal court within three days to block a purchase, something Democrats like Murphy reject as unworkable.

Murphy said that in the two days after he launched a 15-hour filibuster last month to press for gun control votes in the Senate, he received more than $100,000 in campaign contributions without sending a single solicitation.

Murphy said he thinks there’s a national frustration that Congress isn’t moving on gun control, and that translates into people who want to donate to candidates who might change the status quo.

He, Booker, Schumer and other like-minded lawmakers plan to use their donor lists and social media contacts to ask for donations for candidates for House and Senate who support gun control measures.

“It’s an effort to leverage support for gun safety into raising money directly into candidate campaigns,” he said.

There also will be a website interested donors can use to give to select candidates. Murphy said a list of those candidates will be available next week.

The Fund to End Gun Violence is, in part, an effort to counter the fund-raising clout of the National Rifle Association.

“The NRA’s power is not just about the amount of (political) money they raise, but they do raise a lot of money for the candidates they support, and we’ve got to catch up,” he said.

The NRA did not have an immediate comment.

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