Sen. Chris Murphy says Democrats ‘have a chance’ to pass background check legislation in the wake of the Atlanta and Boulder shootings

boulder shooting
The memorial at the King Soopers on Table Mesa in Boulder, United States on March 24, 2021.

  • Sen. Chris Murphy said Democrats had a “chance” to pass stronger background check legislation.
  • Murphy told NBC’s “Meet the Press” he was working to get 60 votes in support of stronger background checks.
  • He said convincing Republicans to support background checks was the first step toward garnering support for other reforms.
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Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said Sunday that Democrats had a “chance” at passing stricter background check laws following the deadly shootings this month in Atlanta and Boulder.

“I’m not interested in getting 50 votes in the Senate, I’m interested in getting 60 votes. That is what’s required to pass legislation today,” Murphy told NBC News’ Chuck Todd during an appearance on “Meet the Press.”

“And so I’ve been instructed by Sen. Schumer to work over the next several weeks with Democrats and willing Republicans to try to get a bill that expands background checks that can pass,” he added.

Murphy said he believed the political landscape for strengthening background checks for gun sales has “shifted dramatically” since 2013 when the Senate, then controlled by Republicans, rejected a bill that would’ve expanded background checks.

“Don’t count us out,” Murphy said, noting that Congress had been poised to make some progress on gun reform following the 2019 mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton before Trump’s first impeachment shifted the national focus.

The renewed calls for stricter federal gun legislation follow two deadly mass shootings in the US within the same week. On March 16, a gunman in the Atlanta area killed eight people, most of whom were Asian Americans, during an attack on three spas. Police said the shooter bought the weapon the same day as the killings.

Then, on March 22, a gunman in Boulder Colorado opened fire at a King Sooper’s grocery store, killing 10 people. Police said the Boulder shooter bought an AR-15 style weapon just six days before the shooting.

“I’ve gotten a lot of calls from Republicans in the Senate who don’t want to fight this fight any longer because the NRA’s authority is fading, the anti-gun violence movement’s impact is increasing,” Murphy said. “I think we have a chance.”

Murphy told Todd that “we should be having a broader conversation” about gun law reforms, but said gaining support for stronger background check legislation among Republicans was imperative to opening the door to other legislative efforts.

“I think right now our best chance to get something passed is universal background checks, and I think the theory of the case is that once we convince Republicans that the sky doesn’t fall for you politically when you support a reasonable expansion of something like background checks, you can move on to other interventions.”

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Ted Cruz says he won’t apologize for ‘thoughts and prayers’ for Colorado shooting victims

Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz said he won’t apologize for “thoughts and prayers” for Colorado shooting victims.
  • Cruz also slammed Democrats for “ridiculous theater” with gun law proposals.
  • In 2018, Cruz was the top recipient of NRA donations.
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Senator Ted Cruz said he won’t apologize for sending thoughts and prayers to the victims of the Boulder, Colorado supermarket shooting.

“I don’t apologize for thoughts or prayers. I will lift up in prayer people who are hurting and I believe in the power of prayer, and the contempt of Democrats for prayers is an odd sociological thing,” Cruz, a Republican said in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.

He added: “But I also agree thoughts and prayers alone are not enough. We need action.”

The comments come after police said a gunman shot and killed 10 people at a Boulder, Colorado supermarket on Monday.

That shooting came less than a week after a 21-year-old man was accused of killing eight people at three Georgia spas.

In the same hearing, Cruz lashed out at Democrats and alleged they play “ridiculous theater” when proposing gun legislation like universal background checks following mass shootings.

Cruz said the measures would take away guns from “law-abiding citizens.”

“Every time there’s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Cruz said.

In 2013, Cruz and Sen. Chuck Grassley first introduced the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act, which would have worked to prevent people with criminal records from obtaining guns. They re-introduced the bill in 2019.

Cruz said that bill “targeted at violent criminals, targeted at felons, targeted at fugitives, targeted at those with serious mental disease to stop them from getting firearms and put them in prison when they try to illegally buy guns,” and said proposals made by Democrats take away guns from law-abiding citizens and “not only does it not reduce crime, it makes it worse.”

In 2018, Cruz was also the top recipient of money from the National Rifle Association receiving $309,021 in donations.

Cruz’s office did not reply to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.

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Pressure is mounting to ditch the filibuster and pass gun reform after back-to-back mass shootings in the US

Police work on the scene outside a King Soopers grocery store where a shooting took place Monday, March 22, 2021, in Boulder, Colo

  • Calls to end the Senate filibuster have intensified after two mass shootings in one week in the US.
  • Activists say trashing the filibuster is the only way to pass gun reform in the Senate.
  • A growing number of Democrats have voiced their support for filibuster elimination or reform.
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After 18 people were killed in two high-profile mass shootings within a week in the US, calls to abolish the filibuster have been intensifying among activists and Democratic politicians as a necessary step to pass gun reform.

Ten people were killed in a Boulder, Colorado, King Soopers grocery store after a gunman opened fire Tuesday afternoon. That tragedy came only one week after a man shot and killed 8 people in three Atlanta-area massage parlors on March 16.

As the country slowly crawls back toward normality after a year of pandemic-related lockdowns, mass shootings – an undeniable reality of American life – seem to be back in full force.

Police said Tuesday Ahmad Alissa, the man charged in the Boulder shooting, bought a semi-automatic rifle less than a week before Monday’s massacre, and in Atlanta, accused gunman Robert Aaron Long allegedly bought the gun he’s suspected of using to murder eight people the day of the shooting.

Neither Colorado nor Georgia has a waiting period when it comes to purchasing firearms. In fact, just 10 US states and Washington, DC, have any type of law requiring a waiting period between the time a person attempts to purchase a gun and when they are able to take possession of the weapon, Insider’s Connor Perrett reported.

The dual tragedies have once again reinvigorated calls for comprehensive, federal gun control. But this time, proponents have zeroed in on a tangible first step: eliminate the filibuster.

Calls to gut the filibuster – the Senate rule that requires 60 votes rather than a simple majority of 51 to pass most legislation – have been ramping up since Democrats took control of Congress in January.

Supporters argue doing so is the only way to push forward a progressive agenda, including an increased minimum wage, student-loan forgiveness, and now, gun control.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted her support for nuking the rule following Monday’s shooting.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Texas politician Julian Castro echoed their support.

Castro told CNN the recent shootings are just one more example of why the country needs “significant filibuster reform” that makes it easier for “effective, meaningful legislation” like gun control to be enacted.

Merkley said if Republicans won’t “get on board” with common-sense gun safety legislation, “we should abolish the filibuster and get it done.”

Democratic rising star and Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman tweeted his support.

And the former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich delivered a concise message.

In a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Tuesday, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois said Congress’ refusal to pass gun legislation has made it complicit in recent violence, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Even with the Democrats’ narrow control of both chambers, passing any type of gun legislation in the Senate is unlikely. Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans on board in order to bypass the filibuster.

Nuking the filibuster could prove to be an equally insurmountable task as at least two moderate Democratic senators have voiced their opposition to doing so. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia declared earlier this year he would “never” change his mind on the filibuster and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has also said she’s against dismantling the Senate staple.

The growing list of Democratic supporters, however, could mean an opportunity to at least reform the filibuster, rather than abolishing it entirely.

But for the people who suffer the consequences of gun violence, action can’t come soon enough. Fred Guttenberg, a gun-control activist and father of a student murdered in the 2018 Parkland school shooting said the recent gun violence was both predictable and inevitable.

“End the filibuster,” Guttenberg tweeted Tuesday. “Gun safety needs to move forward without them.”

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