Sen. Murphy: Inaction makes Congress ‘complicit’ in mass shootings

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Sen. Chris Murphy argued Wednesday that Congress “has become complicit” in mass shootings across the United States, urging lawmakers to take action on gun reform measures in the wake of the supermarket massacre in Boulder, Colo.

“I have just come to the conclusion that Congress has become complicit in these crimes,” Murphy (D-Conn.) told MSNBC. “When Congress doesn’t act, it sends an unintentional but very real sign of endorsement to these would-be killers. It looks like we’re approving the way in which they are managing their grievances, because we don’t do anything year after year.”

Murphy emerged as one of the Senate’s leading gun reform advocates after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn. The Obama administration and congressional Democrats pursued various pieces of firearms legislation following the tragedy, but all those measures failed in the Senate amid Republican opposition.

On Wednesday, however, Murphy appeared hopeful that the politics of gun reform had evolved over the past several years, saying he would work over the next two weeks to bring a bill to the floor of the Senate that would require universal background checks for firearms sales.

“I know a lot of people count us out [and] think that the politics are still the same as they were a decade ago,” Murphy said. “I don’t think they are. I’ve talked to a lot of Republicans that I don’t think want to stay on the outside of this issue for the next 10 years. So we’re going to work this thing really hard.”

The House already passed a universal background checks bill earlier this month, as well as another measure that would allow an expanded 10-day review for gun purchases, closing the so-called “Charleston loophole.” And although neither measure is likely to achieve the 60 votes necessary to win approval in the Senate, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) echoed Murphy’s optimism about the odds for reform.

“We are in a new era here,” Blumenthal told CNN. “I think it’s almost the dawn of a different kind of day, because we have a president who feels passionately — and a vice president — that we need these kinds of common-sense measures. We have majorities in both the House and the Senate. We have a majority leader who says we’re going to have a vote. We’re going to put those Republicans on record.”

President Joe Biden demanded Tuesday that the Senate immediately consider the two gun reform bills from the House, and he also called for a federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The White House has said it is open to exploring executive action to counter the gun violence epidemic, but Vice President Kamala Harris stressed Wednesday that the administration would prefer congressional action.

"I don’t think the president is excluding that,” Harris told “CBS This Morning,” referring to potential unilateral reform by the president. “But again, I want to be clear that if we really want something that is going to be lasting, we need to pass legislation.”

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