U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy speaks at a press conference on the 10 year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting (Screen shot from a live feed by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s office)

Next week’s 10 year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders served Thursday as a catalyst for demands from the families of gun violence victims that Congress adopt an assault weapons ban in response to the regularity of shootings across the nation.

Gun control advocates staged a late morning press conference from the U.S. Capitol to mark the anniversary of the Dec. 14, 2012 shootings of 20 children and six adults at the elementary school in Newtown. They were joined by some of Connecticut’s congressional delegation and the families of victims lost to gun violence in incidents from Maine to Las Vegas.

For 20 minutes, survivors, advocates and family members of victims stood one-by-one to honor a loved one, recount the details of a shooting and to tell the U.S. Senate to “pass the ban.” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal streamed the event live on his Twitter feed. 

The press conference followed a Wednesday night vigil to memorialize the Newtown shooting, in which President Joe Biden again promised to seek a national ban on the AR-15 style semi automatic weapons common to many mass shootings, including the one at Sandy Hook. 

Biden pointed to another ban on so-called assault weapons, passed by Congress in 1994 and allowed to expire in 2004. 

“And guess what? It worked. The number of violent mass murders reduced were significant. A lot of people’s lives were saved,” Biden said, according to a White House transcript. “You know — and we can do it again.”

However, the Senate appears unlikely to act on legislation already approved by the House before the end of the year due to lack of support. Last week, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy told CNN that proponents of the ban “probably” did not have the necessary 60 votes needed to pass the bill in the Senate.

That doesn’t mean gun control advocates have not pushed stricter policies across the finish line this year. In June, Congress passed a bipartisan package of gun reforms, breaking what Murphy called a “three-decade logjam” on gun legislation. The bill contained new background check requirements and funding aimed at bolstering state red flag laws, among other provisions.

During Thursday’s press conference, Murphy said the Sandy Hook incident shifted a legislative trend that long favored firearm manufacturers.

“After Sandy Hook we started building the modern anti-gun violence movement and for 10 years after Sandy Hook there was sort of gridlock here,” Murphy said. “Well, now we are entering a new era in which we have the power, in which we are going to be able pass laws on a regular basis that make the death of kids in mass shootings or on the streets of Hartford less likely.”

While Congress may have been gridlocked on gun policy in the aftermath of the Newtown murders, Connecticut was not. 

In the year following the shooting, the state legislature passed a sweeping, bipartisan bill on gun control and mental health, which, among other things, banned the sale and possession of more than 100 firearm models but allowed residents who lawfully owned the weapons prior to April 2013 a window to register their now-prohibited guns with the state in order to keep them. Roughly 50,000 weapons were grandfathered under the law.

Gov. Ned Lamont recently expressed interest in revisiting the law’s grandfather policy. During a debate last month, Lamont was asked about the October murders of two Bristol police officers by a gunman with an AR-15 style rifle. He said the weapons should no longer be permitted in the state.

Asked about the proposal Wednesday, Lamont said he plans to propose a bill on the weapons in the legislative session that begins next month. 

“I think it’s something that we can enforce and I think it’s something we ought to do,” Lamont said. “It’s a loophole that makes our society here in Connecticut a little less safe.”

It’s unclear how much appetite the state legislature will have to revisit the post-Sandy Hook legislation in order to ban the grandfathered weapons. 

In an interview Thursday, House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said state policymakers hoping to make Connecticut safer should focus on revisiting recent criminal justice reforms and supporting existing programs to get guns off the street. 

“Continuing to say you’re passing a gun ban and you’ve accomplished something is getting tired,” Candelora said. “People are realizing it doesn’t make us any safer and we have more difficult problems when it comes to mental health and juvenile violence. Weapon bans are bumper sticker proposals that politicians use to get their base motivated.”

On Wednesday, Sen. Gary Winfield, a New Haven Democrat who co-chairs the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said banning the previously grandfathered guns could be a difficult sell for state lawmakers. He recalled the droves of gun owners who came to the state Capitol to oppose the post-Sandy Hook legislation

“Listen, I’ve been in these debates and these fights before. I know what happens when you put one of those kinds of things on the table,” Winfield said. “If the governor wants that, we’re going to have a conversation about it. I think the conversation will be about the actual likelihood of it happening, what skin he’s got in the game.”

Meanwhile, the existing law has been challenged by lawsuits driven by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which overturned a New York policy on handgun licensing. Attorney General William Tong has vowed to defend Connecticut’s firearm regulations

For now, Blumenthal said Connecticut has some of the strongest gun regulation in the country because of the tragic shooting 10 years ago.

“But we know no state is protected unless all are protected,” Blumenthal said. “Guns have no respect for state borders. They come across state lines and that’s why Congress needs to do its job.”