Murphy on GOP: Gun Rights a ‘Litmus Test for How Much You Hate Government’

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) applauded Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for “proudly” pledging to take on the gun lobby and “calling out” opponents of gun control while campaigning in swing states such as Virginia and North Carolina.

Clinton is locked in a tight race with Trump in North Carolina, which former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) won in 2012. She is beating Trump by 3.5 points in Virginia, according to the latest Real Clear Politics polling average. President Obama won Virginia in 2012.

“We have to take on the gun lobby head-on and unmask it for what it has become — a spokesman for the gun makers, not for gun owners. Eighty percent of gun owners, even NRA members, support universal background checks. A higher percentage of gun owners than non-gun owners, some polls show, support closing the terror loophole. More political leaders need to call out the gun lobby’s double game and make their endorsement a little bit less meaningful,” Murphy said during a recent newsmakers' event at the National Press Club.

“At the top of the ticket, Hillary Clinton's doing just that. Don't underestimate the importance of a major party presidential candidate asking for a mandate on the issue of guns and calling out the opponents of gun reform along the way. Some of the biggest applause lines for Clinton in her speeches are when she pledges to take on the gun lobby and she isn't afraid to talk about this in unlikely places like North Carolina and Virginia,” he added.

Murphy said the Democrats now have “some new unlikely allies” within the Republican Party.

“During the debate that followed our filibuster, senators like Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham, who both voted against background checks, by the way, in 2013, were very critical of those that argued for the status quo.’every right has boundaries on it’ — that’s what Lindsey Graham said earlier this year about the Second Amendment. I'm sure he would not have conceded that point two or four or six years ago,” he said.

The lawmaker urged Democrats to recognize that the “right’s slide away from defending the legitimacy of government isn’t going to magically abate, especially if a Democrat continues to occupy the White House.”

Murphy told the audience he has talked to many Republicans in Congress who want to be “more reasonable” on guns.

“But they're stuck in a party in which their positions on guns is kind of a litmus test for how much you hate government. There have got to be other proxies to demonstrate ideological purity in this respect, and we should be working hard with sympathetic Republicans to find another path forward, not simply yelling at them for refusing to work with us,” he said.