Washington – Gov. Dannel Malloy received a standing ovation from gun safety advocates Tuesday for an impassioned speech on the need for a new push to curb gun violence.
“What happened at Sandy Hook…is going to happen again,” said Malloy, a reference to the 2012 shooting of 20 first-graders and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown.
Malloy was chosen as the luncheon speaker at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence national summit in Washington, D.C., because he was successful in pushing a tough gun control bill through the state legislature after the Newtown shooting.
And there were other reasons.
“He’s always been a champion of the issue,” said Robert Disney of the Brady Campaign.
In an apparent reference to Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, Malloy asked his audience how we “got to the point where a parent needs to give a mentally ill child a gun so he can feel better about himself?”
Malloy also said women “get guns”— that is, understand the need for gun control — and urged the advocates to “embrace women” in their efforts to tighten gun laws.
Motivated by the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon earlier this month, gun control advocates are renewing a push in Congress initiated by the Sandy Hook shooting to broaden FBI background checks of gun buyers to those who purchase firearms at gun shows and on the Internet.
That first effort to expand background checks failed.
But the Oregon shootings have given the issue new life. Dozens of Brady Campaign advocates plan to fan out on Capitol Hill Wednesday to press for passage of background check legislation.
“It’s not rocket science,” Malloy said.
The governor also said tough state gun laws can’t prevent people from circumventing those laws by purchasing guns in other states and that federal action is needed.
Gun control is also popping up as an issue in the campaigns of many Democrats, including Hillary Clinton’s.
Earlier this month, Obama said he intends to use his bully pulpit to “politicize” issues around gun control, and he touched on the theme in a speech in Chicago Tuesday.
But gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, say extended background checks would not have prevented Lanza and other mass murderers from obtaining their weapons. And they say criminals know how to circumvent the process.
“Studies by the federal government show that people sent to state prison because of gun crimes typically get guns through theft, on the black market, or from family members or friends,” the NRA says.
The Brady Campaign has ranked Connecticut second in the nation for its gun laws; California was No. 1.
“You rank us second? I don’t know what you’re thinking about,” Malloy joked.
After the speech, Malloy, the next head of the Democratic Governors Association said he “thinks a lot of Democrats will win running on the issue of gun control.”
But he said he would not “dictate” the position fellow Democrats take on the issue.
Still, Malloy said, polls show a majority of Americans, even those who are NRA members, support the extension of background checks.
“You needn’t be afraid of background checks,” he said.