Congress Won’t Be Able to Ban Assault Weapons Anytime Soon. Sen. Chris Murphy Has Another Idea.

He proposes refusing to fund counties that aren’t following current gun control laws. 

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., arrives for a news conference after the senate luncheons in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly via ZUMA Press

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A shooter used an assault-style rifle and handgun to kill five people and injure 25 more at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs on November 19. Three days later, a different shooter used a handgun and multiple magazines to kill six people and injure at least six more at a Chesapeake, Virginia, Walmart.

Those are just two of the 12 mass shootings that occurred this year. But despite the steady trend of fatal shooting sprees, America currently has no assault weapons ban, and only nine states and the District of Columbia explicitly require waiting periods before people can purchase at least some types of guns. 

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, one of the Senate’s loudest gun-control proponents, admitted that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

“The House has already passed it,” Murphy said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday of a bill banning assault weapons. “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 is close to 60 as possible.”

While Democrats could pick up an additional senator in 2023 if Sen. Raphael Warnock beats GOP challenger Herschel Walker in Georgia’s Dec. 6 runoff election—making it possible their new majority will be 51-49—it will be even harder to pass any new gun control laws next year because Republicans will then control the House.

Murphy did suggest one alternative: cutting law enforcement funding in counties that aren’t implementing existing state and federal gun control laws. Such areas are especially prevalent in states like Texas and Nebraska, which have designated themselves as “sanctuary states” for gun rights.

“They have decided that they are going to essentially refuse to implement laws that are on the books. That is a growing problem in this country,” Murphy said. “And I think we’re gonna have to have a conversation about that in the United States Senate. Do we want to continue to supply funding to law enforcement in counties that refuse to implement state and federal gun laws?”

“Sixty percent of counties in this country are refusing to implement the nation’s gun laws, we’ve got to do something about that,” he said.

He’s not the only one calling for reform. On Thanksgiving day, President Joe Biden also said he wants to revive America’s 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. “The idea we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick. Just sick,” Biden said. “I’m going to try to get rid of assault weapons.”

What Biden didn’t say, however, was how in the world he planned to get that done.

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