U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy filibusters on the Senate floor Wednesday.
Sen. Chris Murphy speaks at a press conference on Monday about his background checks bill.

Connecticut’s Democratic senators plan to re-introduce a universal background check bill this week that was first proposed six years ago as a response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Back then — to the dismay of family members of Sandy Hook victims who watched the vote from the Senate gallery — the background check bill failed to win enough votes, even though the chamber was controlled by Democrats at the time.

Republicans currently hold a 53-47 vote majority in the Senate. Most legislation in that chamber requires 60 votes to pass.

At a press conference in Hartford on Monday, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., was cautiously optimistic about the bill’s prospects.

“It is going to be difficult. We will likely have to find about a dozen Republicans who will vote with us but there are lots of Republicans who are on the ballot in 2020,” Murphy said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said public sentiment about gun control has shifted and the National Rifle Association’s grip on members of Congress has slipped.

“We have reached that tipping point when we are breaking the grip of the NRA and the special interests who have been in our way up to now on this issue,” Blumenthal said.

The senators’ bill would extend FBI background checks, which are now conducted when someone purchases a gun from a store, to people buying weapons at gun shows and off the internet.

Murphy said the bill “will make sure that every single person that tries to buy a gun in this country proves that they are not a dangerous criminal before they get their hands on a dangerous weapon.”

“It is simply common sense that you should not be able to get your hands on a deadly weapon if you have a history of violence, if you have a history of serious illness,” Murphy said.

Sen. Chris Murphy displays a poster of Newtown shooting victim Dylan Hockley as he comes to the end of his filibuster on the Senate floor in 2015. C-SPAN

Murphy launched a successful filibuster, holding up work in the Senate, in 2015 to force GOP leaders to schedule votes on the universal background check bill and other gun-related legislation. But, once again, the background check bill failed to garner enough support to pass.

However, leaders in the new Democratic-controlled House have planned votes on more than a dozen gun-related bill, including the universal background check legislation.

“I think the stronger the bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, the more pressure there will on Republicans in the Senate,” Murphy said.

Despite the obstacle GOP leadership in the Senate poses to Democrats who seek to tighten federal gun laws, Blumenthal said they are not settling for background checks alone. He also plans to introduce bills that would require safe storage of weapons and extend Connecticut’s “red flag” law to the rest of the nation. That bill would allow family members and others to seek the temporary confiscation of guns from people who could be a threat to themselves or others.

“Background checks are a beginning, they are a bare minimum,” Blumenthal said.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

Clarice Silber

Clarice Silber was a General Assignment Reporter at CT Mirror. She formerly worked for The Associated Press in Phoenix as a legislative and general assignment reporter. In 2016, she conducted extensive interviews and research in Portuguese and Spanish for the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative team at McClatchy, which was the only U.S. newspaper to gain initial access to the Panama Papers. She is a Rio de Janeiro native and graduated from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

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2 Comments

  1. Every source from the FBI to DOJ to even city leaders testifying on gun violence all state the same thing- the huge majority of criminals get their illegal firearms from strawman purchases through friends and relatives who have no criminal backgrounds. Background checks will have NO effect because the criminals buying and selling guns illegally haven’t been caught yet to even have a criminal background. Neither Murphy or Blumenthal have ever given even one example of how background checks would have prevented a tragedy; not even the Sandy Hook shooting, which was committed by a sociopath who murdered his own mother and stole her gun. They simply give us feel good placebos like this to give the appearance they’re doing something other than nothing to get us to vote for them…but doing something that accomplishes nothing is the same thing as doing nothing, for all the good it does anyone. CT voters, you are really,really stupid for continually voting for these two snake oil peddlers.

    1. Dave, your comment is the kind of thoughtful input we welcome on our comments platform… until the last sentence where you call people stupid and characterize elected officials in highly derogatory terms. We’re approving your comment this time, but from now on please refrain from both of these practices on our site.

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