March 26th, 2013 | City

Sens. Blumenthal, Murphy criticize NRA

BrianneBowen_Newtown-31-630x420
Photo by Brianne Bowen.

Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 and Chris Murphy offered harsh words to the NRA in a Monday letter to the pro-gun organization’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre.

The letter, in which the senators requested the NRA cease automated calls pushing the NRA’s pro-gun policies to Newtown, Conn., residents, called the organization’s behavior “inappropriate” and its agenda “extreme.”

“With the robocalls, the NRA has stooped to a new low in the debate over how to best protect our kids and our communities,” the senators wrote. “We call on you to immediately stop calling the families and friends of the victims in Newtown.”

The NRA did not respond to requests for information on the specific language included in the robocalls or whether the organization plans to continue the calls. The organization has vowed to oppose any tightening of firearm regulations. On Sunday, however, Politico reported that the organization was in private talks with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment, to expand background checks on gun purchases.

Nearly 100 days after the school shooting that claimed the lives of 20 first-grade students and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the national push for increased gun control continues to move slowly. Just under two weeks ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved four pieces of legislation written in the wake of the massacre. The most controversial provisions, such as an assault weapons ban, however, are widely considered unlikely to pass the full Senate.

Read the full text of the letter below:

March 25, 2013

Mr. Wayne LaPierre
Executive Vice President
National Rifle Association of America
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

Dear Mr. LaPierre:

We write to you today on behalf of our constituents in Newtown, Connecticut who are outraged by your inappropriate automated phone calls pushing the National Rifle Association’s extreme agenda being received by members of the Newtown community. With these robocalls, the NRA has stooped to a new low in the debate over how to best protect our kids and our communities. We call on you to immediately stop calling the families and friends of the victims in Newtown.

Like all Americans, we were horrified by the shooting on December 14th at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We were with the parents that day and the days that followed and can confidently tell you that the parents of the victims, and the community as a whole, are still struggling to comprehend the horror of that day. Your robocalls pushing our constituents to contact their members of Congress to urge opposition to common sense gun safety legislation are incredibly insensitive.

In a community that’s still very much in crisis, to be making these calls opens a wound that these families are still trying hard to heal. Put yourself in the shoes of a victim’s family member who gets a call at dinnertime asking them to support more assault weapons in our schools and on our streets.

Unfortunately, this latest act is just another example in a long line of offensive steps your organization has taken in the wake of this tragic shooting. Your press conference one week after the tragedy articulated your surreal vision that the only way to solve the epidemic of gun violence in America is through the use of more guns. One month later you released “NRA: Practice Range,” an Apple app that allows individuals to shoot targets in a variety of settings and with a number of different weapons, including handguns, an AK-47 and an M-16. More recently, one of the NRA’s Wisconsin lobbyists remarked that your extreme agenda may be delayed by the so-called “Connecticut effect.”

Robocalling members of the Newtown community to promote your agenda less than 100 days after the horrific shooting is absolutely beyond the pale. Again, we call on you to show some basic decency and cease and desist these calls.

Sincerely,

Christopher S. Murphy Richard Blumenthal
United States Senator United States Senator