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Junior Senator Takes On National Rifle Association

by Christine Stuart | Feb 19, 2013 7:32am
(15) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Civil Liberties, Congress, Town News, Newtown, Public Safety

Christine Stuart file photo

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy

(Updated Wed. 11:25 a.m.) U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy is trying to convince his former colleagues in the House and his new colleagues in the Senate that there won’t be any retribution from gun owners at the polls, particularly if they do the right thing and vote in favor of common sense gun control legislation.

During a conference call from Washington on Monday, Murphy cited numerous polls that showed regular gun owners, including some who self-reported being members of the National Rifle Association, aren’t in lockstep with the association’s lobby.

The most often cited poll was the one conducted by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. That poll found 74 percent of NRA members support a requirement for a criminal background check on anyone purchasing a gun. Eighty-seven percent of non-NRA members support the same policy.

The poll was conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who went on CBS’s “This Morning” after NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre held a press conference in December calling for armed guards in schools, and suggested that the leadership of the organization wasn’t listening to the public.

“The public wants guns out of the schools, not in the schools, and they’re not asking for a security official or someone else,” Luntz said.

Murphy’s office aggregated Luntz’s poll along with polls from other organizations, which reach similar conclusions that there is widespread support for universal background checks and other measures such as bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines with more than 10 bullets.

Jacqueline Otto, a media liaison with the NRA, said Wednesday that none of the polls claiming to include NRA members are credible because no one but the NRA has access to the membership.

An NRA poll conducted in January found that 92 percent of its members oppose a new federal law banning the sale of firearms between private citizens, 91 percent support laws keeping firearms away from the mentally ill, and 89 percent oppose banning semi-automatic firearms, often mistakenly called “assault rifles”.

As far as universal background checks go, Otto said a vast majority of gun sales are done only after a background check by a federally-licensed firearm dealer. She said the NRA’s position on universal background checks hasn’t changed over the years, but the conversation has changed. She said a universal background check would require the non-sale transfers of firearms to be included, which means if a father wanted to bequeath his hunting collection to his son a background check would be required.

She said the National Institute of Justice concluded that states would need a firearms registry to make universal background checks work.

Murphy said the NRA supported mandatory universal background checks in 1999, now “13 years later, and dozens of mass shootings later, the NRA no longer supports universal background checks.”

Murphy opined that the reason behind the flip-flop was related to their funding sources.

“They’re now much more reliant on contributions from the gun industry,” Murphy said. “Rather than contributions and support from their members.”

Before a House Judiciary Committee in 1999, LaPierre said, “We think it’s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone.”

Last month, the NRA published a statement on their website outlining their current, opposite stance on the issue:

“NRA does NOT support universal background checks and is not working with [U.S. Rep. Joe] Manchin to implement this type of legislation. NRA opposes, and will continue to oppose, universal background checks and registration schemes.”

LaPierre outlined the issue even further in an editorial that ran in USA Today.

Mark Glaze of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group backed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also was on the call Monday.

“The gun lobby is perceived as being exceptionally strong, both as a lobbying force and a political force,” Glaze said. “In fact, the perception of power is power, so the NRA does frighten some people, but much of that fright is ill-founded. If Congress wants to act — we believe that a majority in Congress clearly does — it can do that without significant political risk.”

Glaze said the NRA doesn’t represent the views of gun owners, but they also don’t represent the views of the NRA’s rank-and-file, which is a relatively new development. He said the Luntz poll proves that NRA members often disagree with the organization’s positions.

But passing gun control legislation is never easy.

If a bipartisan gun control bill comes out of the Senate it will be “very hard for the House to just sit on their hands,” Murphy said.

He said he thinks there’s actually more political danger in not voting on a bill.

During his State of the Union address earlier this month, President Barack Obama told a joint session of Congress that “Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek and Tucson and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence — they deserve a simple vote.”

In a way it seemed to be a concession that it may not pass, but it deserves a vote.

That’s not how Murphy interpreted it.

“The president and the vice president aren’t backing down on this,” Murphy said.

Vice President Joseph Biden will visit Connecticut on Thursday for a conversation about gun control. The event will take place at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury and will center on federal legislation.

Murphy said most of the discussion has centered around the changes the General Assembly is considering and he wanted a chance to discuss the proposed federal changes with a Newtown audience.

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(15) Comments

posted by: Hoosier@CT | February 19, 2013  8:49am

This is just another grab for headlines. There are plenty of laws on the books for gun control, we don’t need more until they actually enforce the current ones. All this gun control noise is just “feel good” legislation in response to a tragedy.
Our legislators need to focus on the real needs of our country, jobs and the economy, the rest is just “feel good” noise with no real measurable outcomes.

posted by: Joe Eversole | February 19, 2013  10:23am

Go ahead Chris, poke that sleeping dragon.  I would love to see you shown the door.  Maybe then you will actually have to get a real job for the first time in your life.  The NRA has no issues with background checks at gun shows, what they have a problem with is background checks on private sales.  If I sell my firearm to my uncle, I shouldn’t have to report it to the feds. It’s none of their business.  The two reasons you think the Feds need to know is to Tax or to Take.

posted by: samfatboy | February 19, 2013  10:45am

Depending on which government report you choose to rely on, 800,000 to 2.5 million cases per year prove that the best chance to stop a bad person with a gun is for a good person with a gun to be nearby.

posted by: ad_ebay | February 19, 2013  11:24am

I have never encountered a person so out of touch with his constituents as Chris Murphy.  Even a cursory glance at the news would reveal the overwhelming support for the Second Amendment of the Constitution he swore to uphold.

The numbers I find appalling are the rich government slackers that are dancing in the blood of children to move their social agenda forward even faster.  Notice how the ghouls were spring loaded to drop legislation when tragedy was in the news?  Architects such as Feinstein and Bloomberg could not get on television fast enough.  Their willingness to exploit the deaths of so many is disgusting.  Now the likes of Murphy are trying to walk in their shadow.  Wake up, Chris!  You WILL lose your cushy job if you do not listen to those who elected you.  The fact that you so blatantly defy the will of “we the people” shows your disregard for the state that put you there.  More the shame that you get a fat pension and lifetime benefit after ONE term.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | February 19, 2013  12:37pm

Relax, junior.

Your job is to get in the middle, get beat-up by both sides, and then vote.  No need to antagonize anyone.

Junior - who was the most effective senator of the past 50 years? (Hint - he was quiet, stayed out of the headlines)


posted by: jim1 | February 19, 2013  1:19pm

You vote for a bill that I don’t like and you won’t get my vote next time..  They don’t use the laws on the books now what will more do. I have a handgun that takes a 15 shot clip, how long does it take to change clips?? Some of the laws they are talking about, with a little change in what the gun looks like will keep it of the list. Do you know why I carry a gun? A cop is to heavy. You call 911 in New Haven and are put on hold..

posted by: ad_ebay | February 19, 2013  2:47pm

Hey Chris!
“Don’t feel entitled to anything you didn’t sweat and struggle for.” - Marian Wright Edelman

posted by: tin turnip | February 19, 2013  3:32pm

People need to stop the perpetuation of this MYTH that the NRA represents gun owners. They do not. They work for, and are funded by, GUN MANUFACTURERS. This is why they oppose ANY sensible measure that might make it a little more difficult to buy a gun. Fewer gun sales means less money in Wayne Lapierre’s pocket. Don’t pretend they represent responsible gun owners. They do not. They’d be perfectly happy if every nutjob in the world could buy 100 guns each, as long as it makes them money.

posted by: Hebee | February 20, 2013  7:31am

Jim1, you must have missed the memo. We can’ t threaten a Democrat in Blue Connecticut with the loss of our vote. If 70% of Dems stay home on Election Day, the Democratic Candidate still wins. Murphy, like the rest of them, will do whatever he wants without fear of repercussions. Sad but true.

posted by: Reasonable | February 20, 2013  12:24pm

Murphy “likes to blow his horn”—in a political pretext that he is doing something beneficial for his constituents.  he Fooled the voters, by blowing his horn, in the past—so he is a bonifide, veteran politician—who lives by his wits—to grab headlines.  And he gets paid for it, besides.  What a country this is.  It’s no wonder we are going down the tube.  We elect leaders to “beat the system.”

posted by: BrianO | February 20, 2013  1:31pm

Dancing in the blood of children…?

posted by: William Kurtz | February 20, 2013  2:33pm

” The NRA has no issues with background checks at gun shows, what they have a problem with is background checks on private sales.  If I sell my firearm to my uncle, I shouldn’t have to report it to the feds. It’s none of their business. “

Why on earth would a background check on a private sale be less relevant than one for a gun show sale?

posted by: sofaman | February 20, 2013  2:34pm

Chris is simply doing what his constituents are asking for: increased (from nearly zero) gun responsibility laws. The continued cries around here that amount to “Do Nothing” are indicative of a culture that wants to evade responsibility.

posted by: Reasonable | February 20, 2013  5:51pm

Sofaman:  What has Chris Murphy ever done, other than finding a way to stay on the federal payroll?  Murphy is no leader—so don’t expect any form of accomplishment from his bid to take on the NRA.  We are only getting a slanted verbal response from Chris Murphy—and he is already proved himself as being proponent “talk is cheap.”
Based on his nebulous past performance history, expect little productive action from Congressman Murphy, Sofaman. He will only tell you—what you what to hear.

posted by: GOTROD #1 | February 21, 2013  10:33am

I’ll make sure I vote against this governor Malloy next election. These idiots forgot about Dr. Petit & how his whole family was killed in front of his eyes while the Dr. hidden in a closet because he didn’t have a gun to save his family. People don’t let these Bozo politicians take your rights like they did in Canada, New York, England and other countries who are now at the mercy of a cop showing up in time which will never happen in today’s world.