Senate Democrat Says He'll Settle for Scaled-Back Gun Control Reform After Oxford Shooting

Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut and one of the U.S. Senate's leading advocates for tougher gun laws, said Sunday that he "won't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" when it comes to gun control reforms.

Murphy is willing to "settle" for less ambitious reforms than others he's pushed for—including universal background checks, and a ban on assault weapons—in order to save lives.

Murphy's comments came days after a mass shooting at a high school in Oxford Township, Michigan that left four students dead and several other injured.

During an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday, Murphy that that Democrats "have the votes" in the House and Senate for a bill requiring universal background checks for gun purchases, and a president who will sign it.

"It's the rules of the Senate that prevent us from passing it. We probably have 52, 53, 54 votes in the Senate for this," Murphy said.

Under the Senate's filibuster rule, at least 60 senators have to vote in favor of ending debate on a bill. Therefore, if 41 senators decline to end debate on a piece of legislation, they can effectively block it indefinitely.

Democrat Will Settle for Scaled-Back Gun Reforms
Senator Chris Murphy said Sunday that he "won't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" when it comes to gun control reforms. Above, Murphy speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on June 9, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Pool

"We can't let failure or obstacle stop us. We're going to have to continue to build a movement. If we don't change the rules of the Senate, then we're ultimately going to need 60 votes and so we need to continue to build up our political power around the country," Murphy stated.

Tapper then asked Murphy about more modest gun reform legislation that has been proposed by Senators Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican. The legislation would close the so-called "gun show loophole" by adding a requirement for unlicensed firearms dealers to do background checks on gun buyers.

Tapper said Toomey told him a few months ago that he thinks the bill could get 60 votes in the Senate, but that there's "been no progress on it because people who want gun reform in the Senate want big, sweeping gun reform and won't be happy with even just an incremental step, like closing the gun show loophole."

"Isn't something better than nothing?" Tapper asked Murphy.

"I won't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I want universal background checks, I want a ban on assault weapons, but I will settle for something much less because that will save lives," Murphy said.

The senator said that he's been in negotiations Republican senators "trying to find a compromise that can get 60 votes in the Senate."

"Maybe this shooting will bring people back to the table, but we haven't taken a vote this year in part because I've asked Senator Schumer for the room to try to negotiate that compromise that you're talking about. " Murphy said, referring to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

"I wish my Republican colleagues didn't sort of have epiphanies on this issue only after mass school shootings, but that tends to be what happens. And so my hope is that in the next couple weeks we can get back to the table and see if we can, at the very least as you said, maybe close the gun show loophole. That alone would save a lot of lives," Murphy said.