NEW HAVEN, CT — With supporters including relatives of children murdered in Sandy Hook cheering them on, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro Friday said the Las Vegas massacre will rebuild momentum to pass tougher gun legislation in Congress.
At a press conference in front of the New Haven police station, the three politicians and New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell said Sunday’s horrific massacre, in 58 were killed and nearly 500 wounded, has the gun lobby reeling.
Murphy said that while he and Blumenthal have been two of the loudest voices in Congress for tougher gun laws, there is something bigger going on.
“No matter how many good ideas we come up with, it is going to be the growing anti-gun violence movement representing here today by all of these groups that are getting stronger by the minute that are going to force Congress to act and ultimately going to save people’s lives,” Murphy said.
“We are furious beyond words that our colleagues continue to offer compassion and thoughts and prayers and no action,” Murphy said. “We do not suffer from a deficit of compassion in this country. We suffer from a deficit of action.”
His words were received with loud applause from the crowd of approximately 200 people, intermingled with a chants of “act now.”
Some gun control advocates were heartened when on Thursday the National Rifle Association came out in support of additional federal regulations on bump stocks, a firearm accessory that allowed the Las Vegas massacre shooter to convert a dozen of his semiautomatic rifles to fully automatic fire.
It was the first statement by the NRA since the Sunday night shooting by Stephen Paddock.
Blumenthal and Murphy have been urging their colleagues to ban bump stock devices and toughen up background checks on firearm sales. They also introduced legislation Thursday that would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) passed by Congress in 2005.
Blumenthal told the crowd at the police station in New Haven that he suspects the NRA position statement was “a dangerous delay.”
“There must be a ban on bump stocks,” Blumenthal said. “We don’t need to regulate them. We need to ban them.”
He added that stopping bump stocks “is the least we can do.” He said there is far more Congress should be taking up when it comes to gun control, including a ban on assault weapons and universal background checks.
In an unapologetic email to his supporters Thursday night, Murphy said he’s been accused of using the Las Vegas massacre to score political points.
A ban on bump stocks — in Connecticut — is also being asked for by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who said this week he wants to see it brought up in the next session of the General Assembly when it convenes early next year.
DeLauro said the advocates at Friday’s press conference “give us the courage and the strength” to move forward.
“We all offer our prayers, our moment of silence — but that is just not enough. We need to pursue this gun violence legislation. Connecticut people are demanding action. Begging us to stop the killing,” DeLauro said.
“And the Congress of the United States have ignored the people of this city, of this state, of the entire country by not listening to them,” DeLauro added.
Blumenthal, Murphy, and DeLauro also signed their condolences on Friday on a poster being circulated from the “Newtown Action Alliance,” which organizers said would be soon sent to Las Vegas.
New Haven’s top cop, Campbell, noted that two of his own officers were wounded in gunfire this week.
“What we are asking for is common sense legislation so that situations like what happened in Las Vegas or what happened in this state in Sandy Hook can never happen again,” Campbell said.
One of those in the audience Friday was Hap Jordan, of Cheshire, who was holding a sign stating “Reduce Gun Violence.”
Asked why he was at the press conference, Jordan said: “It’s my chance to show our senators the same support they’ve been showing us.”