Murphy vows to fight on after defeat of gun reform bills

By Kevin Zimmerman

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Following the U.S. Senate’s voting down four separate gun-control measures on June 20, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy has vowed to keep up the pressure.

“I’m disappointed by the results tonight, but far from surprised,” Murphy said after the bills were defeated, with his peers voting mostly along party lines. “We knew breaking the NRA’s (National Rifle Association) stranglehold on this Congress would be a long, uphill climb. The fact is Americans want a background-check system that prevents dangerous people and terrorists from getting their hands on guns. It will take time, but I firmly believe that our democracy does not allow a Congress to be this far out of step with the views and values of the people for very long. This country is rising up to demand stronger, safer gun laws, and in the face of unspeakable tragedy, our movement for change got stronger this week.”

Murphy – who launched a widely reported, nearly 15-hour filibuster on the Senate floor June 15 about the need to discuss gun control in the wake of the June 12 incident in which a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 others in an Orlando nightclub – will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans “to take meaningful action to pass common sense gun reform laws that will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and make our communities safer,” according to a statement from his office.

Although none of the four bills were expected to pass, Murphy – who arguably first came to national prominence in the wake of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown – said his main goal was to restart the gun conversation.

The votes on June 20 “would never have occurred were it not for the loud voices of the American people echoing through the halls of the Capitol …,” he said. “After the deadliest shooting in American history, Senate Republicans weren’t even going to discuss, let alone vote on, measures to stop this endless mass murder enveloping our country. So on Wednesday, I took a stand with nearly 40 of my colleagues to demand that Congress do something – anything – to stop the slaughter of innocent victims of gun violence. Millions of Americans engaged in the debate and made their voices heard.”

Among other things, the bills would have addressed background-check loopholes and prevented individuals on the government’s terror watch list from buying guns.

“Republicans say, ‘Hey look, we tried,’” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said. “And all the time, their cheerleaders, the bosses at the NRA, are cheering them.”

Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, the group’s lobbying arm that manages its political action committee the Political Victory Fund, released a statement June 20 that read: “Today, the American people witnessed an embarrassing display in the United States Senate. President Obama and his allies proved they are more interested in playing politics than addressing their failure to keep Americans safe from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.

“We all agree that terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms,” he continued. “We should all agree that law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a secret government list should not be denied their constitutional right to due process. These are not mutually exclusive ideas. It is shocking that the safety of the American people is taking a backseat to political theater.”

In a separate development, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 20 declined to review the constitutionality of a law banning certain semi-automatic assault weapons and large capacity magazines enacted in the wake of the 2012 Newtown shootings, which claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six adult staffers.

”On a day in which the Supreme Court upheld the smartest gun law in the nation here in our state, we see Congressional Republicans in Washington vote down these basic, common sense amendments to make Americans safer,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said.

“The senators who voted against this legislation tonight should be ashamed, not only for voting against the vast majority of Americans who overwhelmingly support these common sense policies, but also for putting their own interests before safety,” he said. “It’s simple – everyone should have to pass a background check, and if a person is on a watch list because of suspected terrorist activities and cannot board an airplane, then we should not be selling them military-style assault weapons.”

Meanwhile, on June 22 Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, led a sit-in on the House floor in an attempt at forcing that body to vote on gun control. Among the participants were U.S. Reps. Elizabeth Esty, Jim Himes, Rosa DeLauro, John Larson and Joe Courtney, all Democrats, from Connecticut. The sit-in reached the 24-hour mark on June 23, through House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) official adjournment for a long recess. Later that same day the sit-in ended, though Democrats indicated they might resume the protest when the House formally reconvenes on July 5.

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