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Dem Congresswoman to Activists: Don't Say 'Control' When Talking Gun Laws

WASHINGTON – Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) called for campaign finance reform to mitigate the gun lobby’s influence on the political process and urged Democrats to drop the phrase “gun control.”

Esty said gay Americans, in particular, shouldn’t support government “control” of any aspect of their lives so they should use the term “gun safety” instead of “gun control” when advocating for tougher gun laws.

She told attendees at the Center for American Progress Action Fund event that the NRA leadership is “way out of touch” with its membership on the issue of background checks for every gun sale.

“I mean, the numbers have been consistent since Newtown: about 90 percent of the American people support background checks on each and every gun sale, 90 percent – that figure has not changed. That's consistent, 90 percent, but elections matter and, in particular, the GOP leadership in Congress is beholden to the gun lobby and I think it's important to make a distinction between the NRA, certainly the NRA membership, because remember, the NRA membership, 70 to 80 percent of the NRA membership supports background checks on every gun sale so it's one where leadership is way out of touch with membership,” Esty said during a discussion Wednesday, “The Pulse Nightclub Shooting One Year Later: Community Impacts and Policy Proposals to End Violence Against LGBTQ Communities.”

“I learned to shoot in an NRA course, a camp, so did my boys. Like you, I'm a believer in the Second Amendment, but there's a big difference between that and allowing anyone, anywhere, anytime, to be packing heat when they shouldn't – and that is really where the battle lines are now,” she added. “So we need to make that clear distinction, so elections have consequences and it’s important to support candidates who are not beholden to the gun lobby. So we need campaign finance reform to reduce the power of money, we need to increase activation of people who support common sense.”

Esty explained that she “never” uses the term “gun control,” adding that “government control” has not worked out well for the LBGTQ community.

“I’d never say gun control, never ever, ever say that. Do you want the government taking control of your life, anybody in this room? For my brother and his husband – they don’t want control by government of their lives, that's not been a good thing for the LGBTQ community, much of any of us as Americans we don't want government control of our lives,” she said. “We want the respect and rights and privileges and responsibilities of every other American. That's what we want, right? That's what we want and so that's why we really should be talking about gun safety.”