Murphy: Conn. shooting changes my plans in Senate
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy said Tuesday the deadly shooting at a Newtown school has changed his plans for when he takes office in January as Connecticut’s newest U.S. senator.
‘‘My Senate career will be much different because of this episode,’’ Murphy said in an interview with The Associated Press. ‘‘I'm going to judge myself as a senator by whether or not I've worked every hour and every day to make something good happen from these kids’ deaths.’’
In November, Murphy won the Senate seat that’s being vacated by the retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 young students and six staff were gunned down last week, is in Murphy’s 5th Congressional District. While he said he’s just barely beginning to consider public policy changes in the wake of the tragedy, Murphy said there is a ‘‘common commitment amongst the Connecticut delegation to be leaders on a renewed national conservation to end this horrific gun violence.’’
On Tuesday, Murphy’s soon-to-be-colleague, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, joined a growing group of lawmakers and other officials calling for reinstating a federal ban on assault weapons. In a speech to the Senate, he said officials need to do something to effectively ban assault weapons. He referred specifically to weapons that are not designed for self-defense or hunting, but for killing and maiming people.
Blumenthal, Connecticut’s former attorney general, said civilian versions of military weapons should not be sold. He also called for a ban on high-capacity magazines.
Murphy said the families of the Newtown shooting victims are not yet discussing what law changes need to be made by politicians in Hartford or Washington, D.C. But when they’re ready to start talking about public policy, Murphy said, he plans to work with them.
Murphy said there’s a risk of oversimplifying the tragedy in Newtown by putting the federal policy focus solely on assault weapons.
‘‘But there seems to be no doubt that less people would be dead if we had tougher and tighter gun laws,’’ he said. Murphy said he believes the horror of 6- and 7-year-olds being murdered will sway Congress to act.
‘‘This time, it’s fundamentally different,’’ he said. ‘‘We've never had to look at, picture after picture, of beautiful 6- and 7-year-olds. And if this doesn’t move the nation to straighten its spine and do what’s necessary to protect our kids, nothing will.’’
Within hours of the shooting, Murphy said he received a call from Arizona U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, the former district director for former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Barber was among those wounded in a 2011 shooting in Tucson. Murphy said he also heard from Colorado U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, whose district includes Aurora, where a gunman opened fire inside a movie theater.
Associated Press writer Stephen Singer contributed to this report.