Members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation appear to have taken up legislation to stem the tide of gun violence as a group cause. That’s not to say that other issues have not been taken up by our representatives in Washington — Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, for example, has been a powerful advocate for food safety, among other causes — but when it comes to gun violence, there appears to be almost coordinated effort.
They introduce legislation on the matter, support their colleagues’ bills on the issue, and speak on it in open session. That support, which may have taken up steam after the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has not waned much, if at all, in the almost three years since.
For example, earlier this month Sen. Christopher Murphy, delivered a so-called “Voices of Victims” speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, telling the stories of individuals and families killed and impacted by by guns.
According to Murphy, 86 people every day nationwide are killed by gun violence.
“What I know is that many of these deaths are preventable, that there has to be a reason why these numbers are so out of whack with every single other country in the industrialized world,” he said on the floor of the Senate last week. “A lot has to do with the reality of this place, that as these numbers continue to ring up, day after day, month after month, year after year at catastrophic levels, we do absolutely nothing about it.”
The very next day, DeLauro and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, signed onto H.R. 2380, a bill introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., that would require a criminal background check on on every firearm sale at a gun show.
In 1986, gun control laws were relaxed to allow sale and transfer of privately owned weapons at gun shows without a background check. The 1999 Brady Law, which forced the use of federal background checks every time a gun is bought from a dealer, excluded transactions with unlicensed private sellers.
Soon, however, the loophole was recognized as a problem by federal agencies. A 1999 report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms noted that “perhaps 40 percent of all firearm acquisitions, and at least 80 percent of those made with criminal intent, are made from private parties. No identification need be shown; no background check is conducted; no record is kept.”
At least eight bills closing the so-called gun show loophole have been introduced since 2001, several of which were proposed by Maloney. None have passed.
“The stats are overwhelming, whether it be the number of people who are killed by guns or the cost to the U.S. taxpayers,” Murphy said last week on the floor of the Senate. “This isn’t just about the fact that I come from Newtown, Connecticut. This is the fact that there is just a regular drumbeat of gun violence though this country, and by doing nothing in the United States Senate and the United States House, week after week, month after month, year after year, we effectively become complicit in these murders. We silently endorse this epidemic of gun violence.”
Jordan Fenster is an award-winning freelance journalist. He lives with his family in Fairfield County. He can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.
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