Murphy deluding himself over gun control "Holy Grail"

AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib

Sen. Chris Murphy is one of the loudest voices calling for gun control in the United States Senate. He’s been coming after guns for years now and there’s no sign he’s interested in slowing down.

But, then again, he represents Connecticut, a state that’s not overly fond of guns themselves. His constituents like his crusader attitude, which is how he’ll keep getting reelected.

The thing that gets me is that the man is absolutely deluded.

I don’t use that term lightly, either. No, I use that because he legitimately thinks he’s close to what the media there terms gun control’s “Holy Grail.”

The gun lobby is weaker than it was in 2013 and the political power has shifted to groups like Moms Demand Action, Mothers United Against Violence and Hartford Communities That Care, but it’s still an uphill climb to get universal background checks for guns passed by Congress because their power lingers.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who reintroduced universal background check legislation this year, said the gun lobby is still powerful in Washington, but there are still politicians who refuse to change their position even though the winds have shifted.

“I think everyone knows your re-election is at risk if you continue to oppose these measures,” he said Monday at a press conference in the north end of Hartford.

But it sometimes takes a little while for these members to be defeated.

“Things change fast in Washington,” Murphy said. “I understand it’s an uphill climb, but nothing is impossible.”

Murphy has been introducing expanded background checks in Congress since 2017 and this year he has 47 co-sponsors in the Senate.

Except things aren’t quite what Murphy has allowed himself to believe.

See, polling suggests that universal background checks are popular. However, when we look at the questions asked by pollsters, it’s pretty clear that the question is open to an awful lot of interpretation. “Do you support requiring background checks on gun purchases?”

Well, yeah, most people do.

In the abstract, that’s pretty non-controversial.

So why is it that the measure has come up for a vote in several states, only to crash and burn at the polls? Supposedly, this is extremely popular with voters, so why is this a problem?

Part of the issue is that people hear that and assume you’re talking about buying guns at a gun store. Those currently require background checks and few people actually oppose those. What many of these respondents are doing is voicing their support for the status quo.

What they don’t like is having to go to an FFL in order to sell a gun to their brother-in-law who they’ve known for 20 years and know isn’t a criminal.

What they don’t like is having to undergo a background check in order for their father to pass a gun down to them.

So, when the rubber meets the road, all that supposed support for universal background checks evaporates.

Why would lawmakers who oppose this end up losing on election day?

That’s especially true when one considers that many voters who favor gun control don’t rank it that highly on their list of things they care about. Sure, they may want all these things to pass, but they’re more worried about the economy or education or a host of other things.

As a result, it’s unlikely that opposition to universal background checks will do a damn thing to impact who they’re voting for.

Oh, and another reason those polling numbers mean little? Because of the Senate.

The Senate represents each state equally, meaning more populous states don’t get to tell less populated states what to do. Yet those more sparsely populated states are also the ones where there are likely to be more support for gun control.

For pollsters, though, they want raw numbers. They make a lot of calls and go from there. When they provide polling data for the nation, it doesn’t matter because that polling data has a disproportionate number of people from urban areas while the Senate simply doesn’t care.

So at the end of the day, Murphy really is deluding himself if he thinks he can push gun control down our collective throats.