A Democrat Who Wants An Anti-Gun Litmus Test For Democrats?

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posted on August 15, 2016
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Chris Murphy Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

In a recent interview with Politico, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Democrats must have the correct views on gun control. He said, “[Gun control] has become a litmus test issue for leadership in the Democratic Party.”

Murphy said some other things that’ll astonish you. But before getting into those, let’s put this in context, as the mainstream media has avoided this part of the political story since President Barack Obama first won the presidency—and they’ve done this even as they’ve vexed about the gridlock and polarization of today’s politics. 

The Blue Dog Coalition of “conservative” Democrats in Congress began in the mid-1990s when Bill Clinton was still in the White House. Their growth across the South and Midwest helped Democrats win a majority in Congress in 2006. They were a big part of the reason why Obama’s party controlled Congress when he first won the presidency in 2008. In fact, after the 2008 elections, congressional Democrats controlled the U.S. House of Representatives 257 to 178 (54 of the Democrats were Blue Dogs). Blue Dogs tended to be fiscally conservative. They also were more likely to understand the importance of the Second Amendment to American liberty. This didn’t jive with Obama’s ideologically far-left administration. Murphy actually thinks having more disarmed Americans is an “effective counter-terrorism strategy”?

In subsequent congressional elections the Blue Dogs have all but disappeared, and with them Obama’s majority in Congress. Yet instead of pointing this out, and calling on Democrats to be “big tent”—as they like to do to Republicans—the so-called “mainstream” media has largely ignored and, at times, even cheered on the demise of moderate Democrats in Congress. In 2014, for example, Heather Digby Parton, writing for far-left Salon, said, “[T]he Blue Dog was a horrible Frankenstein experiment gone wrong, and it’s far better for the political environment if they just pass quietly into extinction before they permanently damage the ecosystem.”

Now we have Murphy saying that the Democrats’ congressional leadership should have to pass an anti-gun-freedom litmus test.

Several times in his interview with Politico, Murphy referenced Sept. 11, 2001, noting that after that horrifying day the United States made it harder for terrorists to get on planes. He said, “We should accept that cracking down on our gun laws, yes, will prevent more mass tragedies like Sandy Hook, will cut down on the rates of urban gun violence, but will also be a pretty effective counter-terrorism strategy.”

Murphy actually thinks having more disarmed Americans is an “effective counter-terrorism strategy”?

Yes, and he also thinks this is smart politics. Murphy also said, “That is a new way to message this, that we haven’t had in the past.” 

In June, Murphy was one of the Democrats who held a 15-hour filibuster in the Senate to argue we need to do things like add secret government blacklists to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) with no due process. 

While being interviewed by Politico’s Glenn Thrush, Murphy said, “Today only about 35 percent of Americans own guns.” (Actually, according to Gallup, 41 percent of Americans now say they have at least one gun in their home.) So in effect, Murphy defines the millions of NRA members—and perhaps gun owners in general—as haters.

Thrush, seeming unsure, perhaps because of the constant upswing in gun sales, said, “Is that true? Yeah, we have—yet the volume that each person purchases has increased, right?”

Murphy said, “So the model of the gun industry is very different. You've got to convince people to buy a lot of expensive weapons, which is why the NRA builds this paranoia about government, because they've got to feed this justification on behalf of a handful of Americans to buy lots of expensive weapons. And then you've got this phenomenon in the Republican Party whereby they are trying to out-anti-government each other, right, so they have to prove how much they hate government, and they hate government more than their primary opponent. Well, there's no way to express how much you hate government better than arguing that your citizens arm themselves against the government.”

So in effect, Murphy defines the millions of NRA members—and perhaps gun owners in general—as haters. Not lovers of liberty. Not free Americans enjoying an American right and pastime. But as people who hate.

Murphy, possibly to show he wasn’t misspeaking, continued: “So Republicans are sort [of], you know, falling in love at a new rate with the gun lobby because that’s a way to express their hatred for the government, that the government is so bad that the only thing that you can do to protest is to arm yourself in potential future resistance.”

In other words, it’s not just NRA members or gun owners who Murphy thinks hate and hate, but all Republicans? And the media is giving Donald Trump a hard time in this election season for, at times, being what they consider over the top?

Perhaps to take this away from all the hate speech, Politico’s Thrush next noted that for many years now Democrats have shied away from gun-related issues, believing that it cost them a lot of votes. Thrush said that when the Democrats took back Congress in 2006, one of the tactics they used “was muting the gun issue … It was a concerted, coordinated move between [Sen. Chuck] Schumer and [now Mayor Rahm] Emanuel” not to talk about the Second Amendment.In other words, it’s not just NRA members or gun owners who Murphy thinks hate and hate, but all Republicans?

Murphy said, “Right,” and then called it a “mythology” that Democrats lost their majority in the 1990s in part because of the “Assault Weapons Ban” they had passed. Murphy said, “I think that this was the third rail for Democrats … [If] you were a Democrat getting ready to run for office in the 2000s, as I was, you were told to stay clear of guns.”

Murphy then said he “regrets” not pushing gun control sooner, when the “wounds were still fresh” from Newtown. He said he and other gun-ban advocates won’t miss the next opportunity.

In the meantime, he wants a litmus test for the Democrats’ congressional leadership on gun control. He doesn’t want to work across the aisle or even to deal with Democrats who cherish their freedom, he just wants his party to get in lockstep as they march against American freedom.

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