NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — After two mass shootings in less than a week, Democrats in the Senate say they are pushing toward a vote on expanded gun control measures.
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, one of the leading voices calling for expanded gun control measures, told WCBS 880's Steve Scott during an interview Wednesday morning why he believes something could get done now, despite a sharply-divided Congress.
Scott: Senator, what proposals are at the top of your list?
Blumenthal: "At the very top of my list are improved and expanded background checks, but also extreme risk warrants that can separate people from guns when they are imminently dangerous with a court order — dangerous to themselves or others, and also safe storage laws because thousands of children are lost every year when guns are unsafely stored and of course protection for domestic violence victims. Those kinds of common sense measures are not only popular, they have reached a point of acceptance in the American public that I think makes it, this time, feel very different. Of course, we have a president and two houses of Congress with majorities that are also in favor of it."
Scott: Ted Cruz yesterday said, basically, that this would be a gun grab, taking legal firearms away from law abiding citizens. What would you say to Sen. Cruz?
Blumenthal: "Absolutely false. There's been no shred of truth to that claim. In fact, every one of these proposals not only comports with the Second Amendment guarantee, but actually leaves guns in the hands of law abiding citizens. The idea of separating a person who is about to commit suicide or domestic violence or walk into a grocery store with a military-style automatic weapon or into a massage parlor with a gun a misogynist and racist who without a gun would still be deeply disturbed, but with one becomes a mass murderer, that's common sense to help save lives and we proved in Connecticut that we can save lives because we have some of the strongest gun laws and they reduced killings by guns, but we are at the mercy of states with the weakest gun laws and that's why we need federal standards."
Scott: If it didn't happen after Sandy Hook or Orlando or myriad other mass shootings, what makes you think it might happen now, especially in a sharply partisan 50-50 Senate?
Blumenthal: "Great question and a key one. What we have now is a very different political dynamic. First of all, a president committed to preventing gun violence and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate committed to that cause, a majority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, who has promised we will have a vote maybe more than one on common sense gun violation prevention legislation and we will put Republicans on record. They'll have to answer to their own voters. A majority of them favor this kind of measure and we see the gun lobby and the NRA on their heels weakened by financial and moral bankruptcy, but most important we have a growing grass roots movement led by a new generation of activists and advocates who have formed a real political movement. They elected members of Congress, they've made themselves a force, and their advocacy and activism has changed the political dynamic."
Scott: There is talk of the president taking executive action if Congress doesn't pass gun measures. Do you see that as a possibility and would you support that?
Blumenthal: "I would support executive actions, in fact, I suggested to the White House a number of easily achievable common sense steps that the president can take by executive order such as virtually banning 'ghost guns,' which have no serial numbers and can't be traced by law enforcement, closing some the loopholes in background checks, more action to be taken to eliminate some of the gaps in our laws in enforcement. The president can take a number of actions administratively, even without waiting for Congress, but at the end of the day we need Congress to act because anything the president does by executive order can be reversed by a future president, so ultimately, Congress must act."