(Updated 4:17 p.m.) Hours before President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address where he will discuss the issue of gun violence, Sen. Richard Blumenthal wasn’t going to let the remarks of a gun lobbyist go unchecked.
This past weekend Bob Welch, a lobbyist, said the NRA’s agenda has been delayed by the “Connecticut effect.” Welch was referring to the Sandy Hook School shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults and prompted a national conversation on gun control.
Welch was described as an NRA lobbyist from Wisconsin, but the NRA said in statement to CTNewsJunkie that Welch “is neither a staff lobbyist nor a contract lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. He does not speak for the NRA.”
“We have a strong agenda coming up for next year, but of course a lot of that’s going to be delayed as the “Connecticut effect” has to go through the process,” Welch told a Wisconsin audience.
“After Connecticut, I had one of the leading Democrats in the legislature — he was with us most of the time, not all the time — he came to me and said, ‘Bob, I got all these people in my caucus that really want to ban guns and do all this bad stuff, we gotta give them something. How about we close this gun show loophole? Wouldn’t that be good?’ And I said, ‘No, we’re not going to do that.’ And so far, nothing’s happened on that,” Welch said.
Blumenthal called the remarks “callous and offensive.”
“If the NRA believes that Americans are going to forget what happened two months ago this week, it is sorely mistaken,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “What the NRA doesn’t seem to understand is that the so-called ‘Connecticut effect’ is actually 20 children with their whole lives ahead of them taken from us in a matter of seconds — and six courageous educators who simply came to school to help children and, instead, lost their lives trying to protect them. The unimaginable pain their families and the Newtown community and our nation feel will not wear off anytime soon.”
He said what happened in Newtown was a “seismic change in our nation’s conscience.”
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Blumenthal asked NRA President Wayne LaPierre to take the Sandy Hook Promise and he agreed.
But the NRA is trying to rally its own support against the expansion of universal background checks — a measure that’s widely supported even by the gun lobby in Connecticut.
At a gun show in Virginia this past weekend, the NRA was handing out flyers titled: “NO to ‘Universal’ Background Checks” saying “While banning guns and magazines is being actively promoted by the anti-gunners, the criminalization of private firearm transfers is the centerpiece of their anti-Second Amendment efforts. This is part of a strategy to chip away at our Second Amendment rights under the guise of being ‘reasonable.’”
Background checks are done on all retail guns sales, but background checks are not required for gun show purchases or private sales.
In Connecticut, Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told state lawmakers earlier this month that his group supports improving universal background checks and opening up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to manufacturers. He admits the group, which is based in Newtown, received push-back from gun owners who felt similar proposals made by the organization in the past violated the Second Amendment.