Senate

Democrat: Republicans who believe in more gun control afraid of being 'politically punished'

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Wednesday charged that the pro-gun lobby prevents many of his Republican colleagues from voting for stronger gun laws, saying about half of the GOP is afraid of being "politically punished."

Murphy said in an interview with Vice News that some Republicans have privately told him that they hope the gun control lobby gains strength in American politics to offset the influence that the National Rifle Association and other right-leaning groups hold.

"I do have Republicans tell me that they wish that there was more political power behind the anti-gun violence movement," Murphy said.

"They just feel like they will be politically punished if they vote the wrong way," he continued. "That is changing, the stronger that the anti-gun violence movement gets, but it's a pretty slow change."

Murphy pointed to the gun lobby's power as a reason why gun control has become a "unique issue" in American politics, where debate can't begin to take place.

"This is just a unique issue. I would argue there's not another issue like this in American politics where the public has so definitively made up their mind, and yet they can't get their elected legislature to do something about it," Murphy said.

"It tells me that there's something else that we're not seeing, and that to me is the power of the gun lobby," he added.

Murphy said that "half" of his GOP colleagues think current U.S. gun laws are "nonsensical," while the other half are "true social Darwinists" who truly believe gun control is wrong.

"I think it's half and half. I think half of Republicans are true gun control social Darwinists. They really do believe that if you flood the zone with guns, the good guys will eventually shoot the bad guys," Murphy told Vice News.

"But the other half do recognize that the laws are kind of nonsensical," he added.

Murphy is pushing for the expansion of background checks for gun purchases following the mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday, where a gunman killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more at an outdoor music festival.

"Nowhere but America do horrific large-scale mass shootings happen with this degree of regularity. Last night's massacre may go down as the deadliest in our nation's history, but already this year there have been more mass shootings than days in the year," Murphy said in a statement.

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