Peter Urban / ctnewsjunkie file photo
U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy in Washington last year (Peter Urban / ctnewsjunkie file photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Connecticut’s two United States senators on Tuesday renewed their continuing political battle cry, once again urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow the Senate to debate and vote on legislation that would expand background checks for those buying guns.

It’s a plea U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy have made repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, for years.

The two senators are pushing for their colleagues to take up the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.” It’s the legislation the Democratic-led House passed 240-99 exactly one year ago this week.

Murphy and Blumenthal said they plan to use the one-year anniversary of the passage of the House bill on background checks as a forum to try and highlight the Senate’s inaction on the very same issue.

“This Thursday marks the one-year anniversary since the House passed the background check bill, a bill that will save lives and is supported by more than 90 percent of Americans,” Murphy said.

Murphy and Blumenthal said they, along with their Democratic colleagues, are going to be submitting a resolution demanding that the Senate take up the House bill.

It’s a tactic the two senators have tried before and failed in getting a vote. But they are determined to try again.

“It is unacceptable that (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell pledges his allegiance to the NRA,” Murphy said.

The last time McConnell commented on the legislation was in September 2019.

A staff person in McConnell’s office Tuesday afternoon declined comment.

“We are not going to stop in our common efforts to get this passed,” Murphy said.

Murphy said McConnell does not want Republican senators on record on gun control votes before the 2020 election.

“His senators can’t win if he allows a vote,” Murphy said speaking of McConnell.

Murphy said in the last few weeks he has “been in touch with the White House” on gun control legislation.

Asked to categorize those talks, Murphy said: “I wouldn’t say I got a green light; but I haven’t gotten a red light either.”

Blumenthal said what he, Murphy and other politicians need to continue to do is pound home the message.

“Americans desperately need these kinds of common-sense gun laws,” Blumenthal said.

And his Republican Senate colleagues understand that, Blumenthal said.

“My Republican colleagues need to get right with this issue,” Blumenthal said. “They will face a whirlwind in the ballot box” later this year when they’re up for re-election if they don’t, Blumenthal predicted.

The House passed two background-check bills in 2019 but neither got a vote in the Senate.

The last time Murphy and Blumenthal attempted to bring up the background check bill, last November, in the Senate it came right in the midst of a school shooting that killed two in Southern California – an irony that Blumenthal pointed out while making remarks on the Senate floor.

Despite that fact, the attempt to reopen the debate was, once again, unsuccessful.

Debate on the legislation has stalled in the Republican-led Senate – in part because President Donald Trump has waffled on his support for tougher Second Amendment laws in recent months.

Trump has previously voiced support for gun control measures such as expanded background checks only to walk back that support following meetings with members of the gun lobby.

Republican analysts say there are political reasons for the president’s change of heart. They say that while Trump has spoken in the past about gun laws, he needs the support of that community to win re-election.

The National Rifle Association opposes the bill saying it would lead to a national gun registry.

The NRA also says the legislation would “make criminals out of law-abiding gun owners for simply loaning a firearm to a friend or some family members.”

Murphy, Blumenthal, Connecticut’s congressional delegation, and other advocates for tougher gun laws have noted that while Connecticut has passed a series of tougher gun laws in the wake Sandy Hook school shooting what really is needed are tougher national laws to stop guns from traveling across state lines that can be used in mass shootings.

Blumenthal said that in the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats defeated many Republican incumbents by making gun violence prevention an issue.

“It (gun violence prevention) will be back on the ballot once again front and center in 2020,” Blumenthal said.

“We are gradually accumulating power,” Murphy said, describing the gun control initiative as a “campaign of pressure.”

Blumenthal agreed, adding that a lot of the organizational movement is being done at the community – and not political – level.

“There is a movement across the country,” Blumenthal said, which is why he said many states, including Connecticut, have taken to passing stronger gun control measures on their own.

“As voters come off age the ground is literally shifting,” Blumenthal said. “There is a seismic shift.”

Both senators said as each day goes by they sense there is less and less tolerance in the country for the status quo when it comes to gun control laws.