Hugh McQuaid Photo
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (Hugh McQuaid Photo)

Connecticut’s U.S. senators renewed their call Tuesday for national retailers to discourage customers from bringing guns into stores. They cited a FBI report that found nearly half of active shooter incidents occur at commercial establishments.

U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal held a press conference in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, where they highlighted new statistics released last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The report found that 160 active shooter incidents occurred in the U.S. between 2000 and 2013. Of those, 45.6 percent happened in areas of commerce.

“It’s time for all of the nation’s major retailers and restaurant chains to tell their consumers to leave their guns at home,” Murphy said. “With half of the mass shootings in this country occurring in retail establishments, it’s just good business and good policy.”

It is a familiar campaign for Murphy and Blumenthal, who wrote in June to the National Retail Federation asking the trade group to adopt “common sense” gun policies for customers and to use its political influence to support strengthening federal gun control policies.

On Tuesday the senators praised gun policies adopted by chains like Target, Panera, Chipotle, Starbucks, and Sonic. They called on Kroger, a national grocery store chain with no locations in Connecticut, to adopt similar policies by asking its customers to not openly carry weapons in its stores.

“Kroger actually has a policy that prohibits customers from carrying food into their stores. It’s against their policy to carry an ice cream cone into one of their stores, but it’s okay to carry an assault weapon,” Blumenthal said. “That makes no sense from the standpoint of business or safety.”

The media relations office at Kroger did not immediately return a call for comment for this story.

Former state Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy attended Tuesday’s press conference. After, he suggested Murphy and Blumenthal should focus their efforts on the nation’s economy and national security rather than “grandstanding” and “disarming the public.” He said the senators were talking about people who have a legal right to carry a weapon.

“To abridge their rights where it’s been proven time and time again that they serve as a deterrent for the bad guys. Whether you’re requiring it or putting pressure on a business to say your store has to be free of people carrying a firearm… all you’re doing is sending a signal to the bad people that says ‘Guess what? Come on in,” Healy said.

During the press conference, Murphy pointed to statistics in the FBI report indicating that 21 of the active shooter incidents ended after an unarmed member of the public restrained the shooter. The report found five incidents in which armed members of the public stopped the shooter.

However, Murphy said the policies he and Blumenthal were advocating are designed to send a message that there are places where it is inappropriate to carry guns.

“The gun industry wants people to live in fear of each other and of the government so that they have to be armed at all times. What we are trying to do is puncture a hole in the gun industry’s argument that everyone in this country needs to be armed at all times in order to protect themselves,” he said.

Hugh McQuaid Photo
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Hugh McQuaid Photo)

Blumenthal agreed.

“It very definitely sets a tone and sends a message and probably discourages people with guns generally, whether they’re openly carried or not, from bringing them with them when they shop. Changing the culture, practice and policy is very important,” he said.