Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, flanked by Susan Bysiewicz, Rep. William Tong on the right and U.S. Richard Blumenthal and Ned Lamont on the left. (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — The Democratic Party in Connecticut wasted little time in pulling together a “gun sense” press conference Monday to draw attention the contrast between their nominee for governor and the Republican nominee.

The press conference followed a weekend of hate crimes. Two African-Americans were shot at a Kroger in Kentucky by a white man with a history of violence. There were the bombs mailed to individuals who have criticized Republican President Donald Trump. And there were 11 people killed Saturday morning at a Pittsburgh synagogue by a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs.

It was the last one that Democratic candidates focused upon Monday despite the inherent political risk of speaking out in such political terms so shortly after a shooting.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who spent 15 hours on the U.S. Senate floor in 2016 to get a vote on expanded background checks for gun purchases, said there’s no waiting period anymore between a mass shooting and the conversation about how to stop them.

He said the insistence that you don’t talk about policy change after a mass shooting “is the creation of the gun lobby to try and stop us from changing our laws that may take away from a gun company’s profits, but will save lives.”

Murphy said that if Republican Bob Stefanowski is elected governor he would look to repeal the 2013 law that increased the number of assault weapons that are banned in Connecticut.

Stefanowski, who has an “A” rating from the NRA, has said if a bill repealing the ban reaches his desk, he would sign it.

“I think it’s clear as day that Bob Stefanowski would sign legislation enthusiastically that would once again allow gun manufacturers to sell all sorts of dangerous assault-style weapons to Connecticut consumers,” Murphy said.

Murphy insisted that it was Stefanowski’s position to repeal the legislation “because he said it.”

“It’s not a question. He said if a bill to repeal the Sandy Hook legislation reached his desk that he would sign it,” Murphy said.

The Stefanowski campaign has not attempted to correct that characterization.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who is not up for re-election this year, said if Connecticut elects “a pro-gun governor we can only hide our heads in shame.” He said it would send a message that “gun violence prevention is dead.” 

“A governor with an A rating from the NRA elected in Connecticut? That’s the national headline,” Blumenthal said.

Stefanowski’s campaign said it was “opportunistic” for Ned Lamont, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, to use another tragedy as a campaign issue.

“Ned Lamont using the terrible murders of worshippers in Pittsburgh for political gain is absolutely beyond the pale, as is his attack ad accusing Bob of being supportive of murder,” Kendall Marr, a spokesman for the Stefanowski campaign, said.

The ad Marr is referring to features Erica Lafferty-Garbatini, the daughter of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the Sandy Hook School Elementary School principal who was gunned down on Dec. 14, 2012.

“She loved her kids. When the gunman began firing she was killed trying to save them,” Lafferty-Garbatini says in the ad.

Lafferty-Garbatini said she’s working to make sure that never happens again.

“Bob Stefanowski has an ‘A’ rating from the NRA,” Lafferty-Garbatini says in the ad. “He would go back to the laws that allowed my mom to be murdered. Don’t let Bob Stefanowski become governor.”

JT Lewis, whose brother was also killed in the Sandy Hook massacre, called out Lamont for using the deaths of his brother and the other victims to increase his elections chances.

“JT has described what Ned is doing as disgusting and disrespectful to the memory of those lost. Ned should be embarrassed,” Marr said, referring to the Tweet Lewis sent the Lamont campaign.

Lamont said he can’t remember how the ad featuring Lafferty-Garbatini came about, but he’s proud of the ad and has no intention of taking it down.

He said he was willing to take the political risk and speak about the shooting Monday because “it’s happening more and more frequently.”

Lamont said the difference between him and Stefanowski is as clear as “night and day.”

He said he will do everything he can to protect the post-Sandy Hook legislation.

“This election is about a choice. This choice is very clear. No clearer than on this issue,” Lamont said.

Lamont, who attended a vigil Sunday at the Jewish Community Center in Woodbridge, said that Sunday was for grieving and Monday was for action.

“We’re not going to be complicit in our silence,” Lamont said.

He said that applies to both guns and the “anti-Semitic, racist rhetoric.”

Po Murray, chairwoman of the Newtown Action Alliance, said all 26 families have different opinions on the issue of gun control.

“But it’s clear that a majority of Americans support common sense gun laws,” Murray said. “Ninety-seven percent of Americans support background checks and 67 percent of Americans support an assault weapons ban.”

She said Connecticut leaders made it really hard after Sandy Hook for “anti-Semitic, racist gunmen filled with rage and hate from getting weapons of war to murder innocent Americans.”

Murray said the Connecticut assault weapons ban was strengthened by the passage of SB 1160 in April 2013, which banned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons and large capacity magazines with more than 10 bullets.

“Connecticut is safer because of our strong gun laws,” Murray said. “We must vote to protect our smart gun laws.”

Murray said Stefanowski has not made a commitment to protect the Sandy Hook guns laws and reiterated that he has said he would sign a repeal of SB1160 if it reached his desk.

The Connecticut Democratic Party sent out more video of Stefanowski from before the Republican primary where he is shown saying: “I will veto any legislation that makes it harder on gun owners.”

“We cannot go backwards in Connecticut,” Murray said. “We cannot lose the governor’s seat to an NRA-candidate. It will have a chilling effect in America for the gun violence prevention community.”

She said they have to “vote for their lives” and they have to elect Lamont in order to do that.

Senators and politicians gather against gun violence

Posted by on Monday, October 29, 2018