Democratic Senator Doubts Passage of Gun Ban


Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut | Image by Getty Images

A senior Democratic senator has stated he does not believe the lame-duck Congress will have the votes needed to pass a so-called “assault weapons” ban.

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut spoke to CNN’s Dana Bash about the president’s desire to pass the anti-gun bill in the closing weeks of the current Congress.

The current Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed such a bill earlier this year.

“I’m glad that President Biden is going to be pushing us to take a vote on an assault weapons ban,” Murphy remarked. “The House has already passed it. It’s sitting in front of the Senate. Does it have 60 votes in the Senate right now? Probably not, but let’s see if we can try to get that number as close to 60 as possible.”

Due to the Senate’s filibuster rule, a bill must have 60 votes to formally end debate and be eligible for an up-or-down vote to pass, which only requires a simple majority.

The United States Senate is currently split 50-50 between the two major parties. The vice president technically serves as the chamber president and casts a vote in the event of a tie. With Democrat Kamala Harris in the vice presidency, control of the chamber has been retained by her party.

Even with the runoff in Georgia ongoing, Democrats will retain control of the chamber either through a new 50-50 split or a 51-49 majority if Sen. Warnock is successful in his reelection campaign.

“If we don’t have the votes, then we’ll talk to [Senator Leader Chuck] Schumer and maybe come back next year, with maybe an additional senator, and see if we can do better,” Murphy added.

After the most recent shooting incidents in the country, Biden has renewed his focus on passing the anti-gun ban.

“The idea we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick; it’s just sick. It has no social redeeming value, zero, none. Not a single, solitary rationale for it,” Biden recently told reporters.

When pressed if he would work to pass the House bill banning certain types of firearms during the lame-duck session of the current Congress, Biden responded, “I’m going to do it whenever – I’ve got to make that assessment as soon as I get in and start counting the votes.”

One of the central sticking points in Democrat attempts to ban “assault weapons” is agreeing on exactly what that term entails.

During the confirmation hearing for anti-gun activist David Chipman to head the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2021, Sen. Tom Cotton asked him to define an “assault weapon.”

“Senator,” Chipman replied, “an assault weapon would be, in the context of the question you asked, what Congress defines it as.”

“So you’re asking us to ban assault weapons,” Cotton retorted. “We have to write legislation. Can you tell me what is an assault weapon? How would you define it if you were the head of the ATF? How have you defined it over the last several years in your role as a gun control advocate?”

Chipman then responded that an assault weapon is “any semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine above the caliber of .22, which would include a .223, which is, you know, largely the AR-15 round.”

Cotton later tweeted a video of the exchange with the text, “President Biden’s ATF nominee is eager to ban basically every single modern sporting rifle in America today.”

Regardless of the outcome in Georgia, Democrats would need numerous Republican votes to enact the ban, which appears to be a daunting proposition given the party’s strong support for gun ownership.

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