With little chance to ban semi-automatic weapons, Democrats turn up rhetoric instead

GOP senators will be 'out of a job' if they don't support gun control measures, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal says.

Updated: June 11, 2022 - 11:05pm

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Prospects for passing sweeping gun control or a ban on semiautomatic weapons in the Senate are dim, leaving Democrats to turn up the rhetoric in the absence of legislative progress on their long held goal.

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal led the verbal charge last week, saying GOP senators will be "out of a job" if they don't support gun control measures.

Following mass shootings that took place in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, a group of bipartisan senators began negotiating a potential gun control bill that could include federal red flag provisions as well as raising the age to purchase semi-automatic weapons to 21. The gunman in both recent mass shootings was under the age of 21. 

Blumenthal, a former Connecticut attorney general, was asked if he thinks the Democratic Party missed a prime opportunity to enact gun control measures, such as a ban on semi-automatic weapons, in 2009 and 2010 when Democrats had majorities in both the House and Senate with former President Obama was in the White House. 

"I wasn't here in 2009. I've been working on an assault weapon ban since the early 1990s. In Connecticut, I helped to pass the assault weapons ban in Connecticut, and I defended it in the court. In fact, trying the case and arguing in the state Supreme Court," Blumenthal told Just the News.

"Frankly, the whole political landscape has changed since 2009. There is now a movement -- it's a groundswell political movement, and that's why my Republican colleagues are at the table because they know that the dynamic is changing, and they will be held accountable and they'll be out of a job if they don't do their job, because 90% of the American people are in favor of many of these common sense measures, including a ban on assault weapons. And I think for them, the calculus is different," he added.

Blumenthal's remarks were made at the opening of a gun violence memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, the Democratic-led House passed gun control legislation that includes raising the age to purchase semi-automatic weapons to 21 nationally and banning the sale of large-capacity magazines. Currently, federal law sets the age at 21 for the purchase of handguns, not semi-automatic weapons such as  AR-15s.

The bill faces an uphill climb in the 50-50 Senate.

Sen. Chris Murphy, Blumenthal's Democratic colleague from Connecticut, has been leading bipartisan talks and is adamant an assault weapons ban or expanded background checks aren't in the cards.

"We're not going to put a piece of legislation on the table that's going to ban assault weapons, or we're not going to pass comprehensive background checks," he told CNN. "But right now, people in this country want us to make progress. They just don't want the status quo to continue for another 30 years."

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