WASHINGTON – Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Congress must pass a new law on gun background checks for national security reasons, comparing the situation to the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“If we want to have a downward effect on the rate of murder in this country then you have to make sure that criminals don’t own guns,” Murphy said during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, arguing “universal background checks are connected to national security.”
“Al-Qaeda and ISIS are openly recruiting for people in the United States to go buy guns at gun shows and use them to kill civilians. When a plane was used to attack U.S. civilians, we changed our law to make it harder for people to use a plane as a weapon against us,” he said. “Well, guess what? Now the terrorists have decided to use weapons of mass destruction that are a little bit smaller, called assault weapons, and they have found out you can get them without a criminal background check.”
In May, ISIS’ Rumiyah magazine told jihadists that in the United States “anything from a single-shot shotgun all the way up to a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle can be purchased at showrooms or through online sales – by way of private dealers – with no background checks, and without requiring either an ID or a gun license. And with approximately 5,000 gun shows taking place annually within the United States, the acquisition of firearms becomes a very easy matter.”
Murphy asked why the nation is “not adjusting our laws to protect from these new tactics.”
The senator, a longtime vocal proponent of gun control, argued that the “epidemic rate” of gun violence happening in the U.S. is partly due to “public policy reasons.”
“This happens nowhere else but in the United States. There is no other country in the first world that witnesses this kind of regular massacre – 90 people dying every day at the hands of guns, the cable news shows lit up every few weeks with news of another large-scale massacre,” he said.
“This only happens here in the United States, but it means there are publicly policy reasons why the slaughter, the carnage happens here at an epidemic rate,” he added.
Murphy said more than 100,000 people are stopped each year from purchasing firearms.
“As many as 25 percent of all gun sales happen without a background check,” he said. “We’ve got a big, glaring loophole in our law today.”
The Background Check Expansion Act, introduced this week by Murphy and 28 co-sponsors, would require private sellers to conduct background checks on gun sales that take place online, at homes or gun shows. Background check exceptions under the bill include “transfers between law enforcement officers, temporarily loaning firearms for hunting and sporting events, providing firearms as gifts to immediate family members, transferring a firearm as part of an inheritance, or temporarily transferring a firearm for immediate self-defense.”
Murphy said the bill would “once and for all” require people to “just prove you’re not a criminal” before buying a gun.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the majority of gun owners agree on universal background checks.
“If 94 percent of the people are ready, why isn’t the Congress ready?” he said. “Want to make America great again? Do something about gun violence.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said almost every law enforcement official supports universal background checks on private gun sales.
“They face the threat of gun violence every day and they see the casualties every day,” he said. “Keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals: that’s the message for Donald Trump today, and there is no getting around the truth of that message.”