(UPDATED 2:30 p.m.) When it comes to gun violence in America, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said “sympathy is important. Prayers are important. But members of Congress don’t get elected in order to send out sympathy tweets.”
He said they get elected to write laws that make people safer.
Murphy was joined by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and U.S. Reps. Elizabeth Esty and John Larson at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford Friday.
“In the face of this seemingly unending mass slaughter, Congress is doing absolutely nothing to prevent it,” Murphy said.
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano called Murphy’s tweets for action rather than prayers “a sophomoric and disrespectful attack.” He accused Murphy of questioning the right of Americans to own a gun.
But Murphy said he was questioning the right of a terrorist to own a gun.
There’s indications in recent news reports that the husband and wife who killed 14 individuals and wounded 17 earlier this week in San Bernardino, CA may have had ties to a terrorist group. The husband was an American citizen. Politico and The Associated Press reported today that the FBI is investigating the incident as a terrorist act.
Murphy acknowledged that the facts behind all of these mass shootings are different, and the legislation that failed to pass Thursday may not have prevented this couple from purchasing the weapons, but there are still steps Congress can take to make America safer and make these shootings less likely to happen again.
“Not every single one of the laws we’re proposing would have stopped this particular tragedy,” Murphy said.
But Murphy feels it’s common sense to deny those on the Terrorist Watchlist the ability to legally purchase guns. He said it’s just a matter of time before someone who is on this watchlist goes into a gun store and purchases and gun and uses it to kill Americans.
“A bill that would simply state that those individuals who are on the Terrorist Watchlist, those individuals who aren’t allowed to fly on a plane because they are suspected of being linked to terrorist organizations — that they shouldn’t be able to buy a gun,” Murphy said.
He detailed a broad array of action Congress could take to deter gun violence.
“What is so disgusting is that Congress is accepting none of them,” Murphy said. “We don’t have to accept this as inevitable. We don’t have to live in fear every single day, but Congress has to get off their ass and start working for the American people to stop this mass slaughter.”
Congress has one week left before they recess for the holidays.
Murphy, Blumenthal, Esty, and Larson said they will continue to pressure their colleagues to get a vote on the issue.
Murphy said it was a “really low day” when they weren’t able to get the votes in the U.S. Senate in 2013 to debate a bill on universal background checks for gun purchases. However, “Thursday was comparable. Thursday was just as bad in many respects as the day when the Sandy Hook background checks bill failed.”
Murphy said they thought they would have the support of 100 Senators to stand together to say “terrorists shouldn’t be able to buy guns.” But they couldn’t even get a majority.
Larson said it’s worse in the House because in the three years since Sandy Hook, where a gunman took the lives of 20 first graders and six educators, they haven’t been able to get a vote on the issue of universal background checks or the terrorist watchlist loophole.
Esty said it defies “imagination” that 2,000 people on the Terrorist Watchlist have been permitted to buy weapons over the last 15 years.
“Prayers are not enough,” Esty said. “The American people deserve and are looking for leadership from their elected officials and we need to start with something.”
Larson acknowledged the lobbying muscle of the National Rifle Association. He said they haven’t been able to get a vote on the issue because organizations like the NRA are concerned about “protecting the due process of terrorists.”
In the United States of America “‘with his gang of lobbyists and Wayne LaPierre, down there waving their flag, we can’t even get a vote,” Larson said. “Because there are those in Congress who want to make sure they have access to every opportunity to purchase a gun.”
Esty said the families of victims of gun violence will be at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Dec. 9, to talk to members of Congress about gun violence and how it’s impacted their lives.