Connecticut's two Democratic senators say they won't back down from their fight for stricter gun control laws despite continued inaction in Washington on the issue.
"We're not going away, we're not surrendering despite the current pessimism that a lot of people may feel, we are going to continue this effort," Sen. Richard Blumenthal said during a public panel discussion on firearm background checks held in East Hartford, Conn., Thursday, local news website CTNewsJunkie.com
Blumenthal said he and Sen. Chris Murphy, also at the meeting, are "committed over the long haul" on national gun control laws.
The effort has been at a standstill in Washington. Last April, a bill to expand background checks for gun buyers fell four votes short of a supermajority it needed in the Senate, and a second vote on the bill never came through. If Republicans take control of the Senate majority this fall, it may be tougher for gun control legislation to pass.
On Thursday, Blumenthal and Murphy said they are trying to build their case for background checks before the measure comes back for a Senate vote.
"When we get this bill back on the floor—we don’t know when that will be, whether it’s this year, next year, three years from now—we want to have built up a mountain of information, a mountain of data so that no one can say with a straight face that we shouldn’t expand background checks," Murphy said.
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, was also at the meeting to present data gathered by his group over the past 20 years, including national polling
that suggests that close to 90 percent of Americans support background checks that include closing loopholes allowing guns to be sold privately or through gun shows.
The Brady Center was able to help push through a background check law in 1993, after fighting for it for seven years, but it expired in 2004.
"That’s the context we have to look at," Gross said. "That’s the 'marathon not a sprint' context," he said. "The vote… in April was looked at and portrayed by some as a big defeat but it was actually … to us a demonstration of the momentum we have."
Blumenthal and Murphy started pushing for federal gun restrictions after the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012. After the shootings, Connecticut tightened state laws, and Blumenthal thinks "history is on our side" in the Senate as well.
"Whether it’s this session or next session or at some point in the future. We will prevail, no question in my mind," he said. "I hope that another tragedy isn’t necessary to provide additional momentum."
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