Democrats in Congress are in the minority, but they are banking on an assumption that the American public backs their gun control proposals.
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty said Wednesday that the rules of the House limit their ability to make change, “but the will of the American people as expressed through their representatives and as expressed at the ballot box,” will hopefully prompt the Republican majority to call for a vote.
“This is a third-rail issue,” Esty said. “This could be a galvanizing issue this year.”
She said if the 90 percent of Americans who believe in background checks for gun purchases vote on the issue of gun control, then “there will be a sea change.”
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said she’s knows there’s an environment where a vote may be unlikely, but she’s not going to “concede.” She said Connecticut’s delegation, which has been a leader on the issue of gun control, and the rest of the Democrats in the House who participated in the 25-hour sit-in last week, will continue to press for a vote.
“It truly is a groundswell across the country,” DeLauro said.
It’s unknown how many demonstrations in support of their efforts to get a vote were taking place this week.
A letter last week signed by six Democratic lawmakers who lead the sit-in, including U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, asked lawmakers to join them in a “National Day of Action” on June 29 to continue the fight for a vote.
“Our sit-in showed that the Republican Leadership can no longer ignore the epidemic of gun violence,” the Democrats wrote. “A movement was born and will only continue to grow.”
They continued: “While you are back home in your District, you can continue to build the momentum and engage your community. Whether in a press conference, roundtable, or telephone town hall, we encourage you to host an event showing that Democrats in Congress will keep up the fight against gun violence.”
DeLauro said if Congress doesn’t take action because it’s a “tough environment” in which to take action, then “shame on us.”
“You can’t win if you don’t risk losing,” DeLauro said.
But Connecticut lawmakers are better positioned than Republicans in other parts of the country to vote in favor of universal background checks and gun research.
Connecticut’s General Assembly, following the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting that took the lives of 20 first graders and six educators, passed legislation banning the future sale of semiautomatic assault guns, like the AR-15, and large-capacity magazines. The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the ban by declining to take up a petition from gun enthusiasts to review the Second Circuit’s decision last year that also upheld the ban.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Connecticut has become “ground zero” on the issue of gun control.
“Not simply because we had this mass shooting,” Malloy said, referring to Sandy Hook. “But also because we responded in an appropriate way.”
He said that gave Connecticut an authoritative voice in the discussion. He said Connecticut’s tough gun laws are “proof positive” the laws they passed made a difference. He said since that time violent crime has dropped more than two-and-a-half times the national average.
“We’ve gone as far as perhaps we could go under the present circumstances,” Malloy said.
That statement may have had Second Amendment groups in Connecticut breathing a sigh of relief. However, Malloy later clarified that if there were legislation he could sign to make Connecticut safer from firearms then he would support it. But aside from “smart gun” technology, he didn’t believe there were any obvious steps to take to protect Connecticut residents.
Earlier this month, Malloy signed a bill that forces anyone accused of domestic violence to surrender their firearms until the court can make a determination on the temporary restraining order.
Malloy said he was proud of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation for leading the national debate.
“We will continue to clamour to get a vote,” DeLauro said.