Oct 11, 2017, 5:35 PM ET

Call for bump stock review a 'significant crack' in NRA's 'political facade': Sen. Murphy


Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy believes the National Rifle Association's call for a review of bump stock devices in the aftermath of the Las Vegas mass shooting represents "the first significant crack" in the organization's "political facade" and predicted that the anti-gun movement will someday cultivate strength comparable to that of the pro-gun lobby.

"We will eventually beat Republicans who vote against the 80, 90 percent of their constituents that want common sense change like universal background checks," said Murphy, a Democrat, on this week's "Powerhouse Politics" podcast with ABC News' chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl and political director Rick Klein.

PHOTO: Sen. Chris Murphy talks with reporters in the Capitol after the Senate Policy luncheon, Oct. 3, 2017.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc./Getty Images
Sen. Chris Murphy talks with reporters in the Capitol after the Senate Policy luncheon, Oct. 3, 2017.

Murphy, whose impassioned, almost-15-hour Senate floor talk-a-thon in 2016 made him one of the country's leading voices on gun control, views bump stocks -- devices that alter semi-automatic weapons to shoot nearly automatically -- as the first opening for those seeking more stringent restrictions on guns.

"I do think it shows the first significant crack In the NRA's political facade," said Murphy. "They do not want a legislative fight on this issue because they think they will lose. Thus, they push the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] to do it administratively."

Last week, the NRA's CEO Wayne LaPierre and top lobbyist Chris Cox released a joint statement in which they called upon the ATF "to immediately review whether [bump stocks] comply with federal law." The statement added: "The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations."

The devices are currently legal and were found on a number of the weapons possessed by Stephen Paddock, the gunman who killed 58 people in Las Vegas.

Cox stopped short however of advocating for an outright ban on the apparatuses -- which utilize recoil to facilitate continuous trigger-pulls -- during an appearance this weekend on "Fox News Sunday."

“We don’t believe that bans have ever worked on anything," he said.

Murphy, who previously represented the Connecticut congressional district home to Sandy Hook Elementary School where a 2012 shooting killed 26, noted that even slight concessions by the NRA represented a major shift in the gun control debate.

"This has been the first time since I have been in Congress that the NRA have shown any willingness to budge on gun laws," he said. "That is because the balance of political power is starting to shift."

In a separate interview on the podcast, conservative political commentator Bill Kristol remarked upon the fractures within the Republican Party and his own tenuous party identification.

PHOTO: William Kristol at Politicon at Pasadena Convention Center, July 30, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif.John Sciulli/Getty Images
William Kristol at Politicon at Pasadena Convention Center, July 30, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif.

"I consider myself [a Republican] who hopes that the Republican Party can be saved," said Kristol, who at first paused when asked about his allegiance by Karl. "If you asked me that nine months ago, I wouldn't have hesitated before answering."

Kristol pointed to the influence of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in describing how the party has changed. Traditional advocacy for free-market ideals has been replaced with nationalism and protectionism, which is, in part, the product of Bannon's influence, he said.

"I don't think it's any great mystery, Stephen Bannon wants to destroy the old Republican Party," said Kristol. "He does not agree with it. He thinks that it's bad for the country. He doesn't like free trade. He doesn't like modern immigration policy. He doesn't like old-fashioned Republican internationalism.

"He wants this, kind of, European-style, populist, new-right upheaval and he's going about trying to make it happen," Kristol continued, adding, "Given that Trump is in the White House more or less supporting this -- I take it pretty seriously."

The divisions among Republicans could become even greater with the approaching 2018 midterm elections, Kristol pointed out. Already, in 2017, the far-right former Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (who was endorsed by Bannon) defeated the President Donald Trump-backed Sen. Luther Strange in that state's Senate primary for Attorney General Jeff Sessions' seat.

As a result of the GOP's "civil war," as Kristol called it, the party could be vulnerable to inroads by Democrats and Alabama could be a bellwether.

"I think Moore will underperform Jeff Sessions," he said, adding, "Is it totally out of the question that [Democratic candidate] Doug Jones makes it very competitive in Alabama -- it's an awfully red state, obviously -- but there's some polling that shows that [the race's margin] is single digits… I think there is an outside chance that Jones could win."

News - Call for bump stock review a 'significant crack' in NRA's 'political facade': Sen. Murphy

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  • sixstrings

    I thought there was no "anti-gun" movement in this country...what gives?

  • Jrducky

    Bump stocks need to be completely banned!!!!
    They have no other use than to kill a lot of people really fast.
    Absolutely no logical reason why they should even exist!!

  • Lee-Anne Griffin

    The NRA "giving in" about bump stocks isn't some crack in their stance. I don't agree with them about much, but they have never really pushed full auto weapons and that is what a bump stock does. Technically it still isn't an automatic but realistically it makes it one.

  • Hawkman100

    Glad to see there are politicians who are willing to stand up to the psychopaths at the NRA.

    Every time there is another mass shooting, the NRA becomes even more drenched in the blood of the victims.

  • Tony Radcliffe-Hung

    Getting rid of bump stocks is simply how much the NRA is willing to give up to try to head off a flood of backlash.

    It is in fact a significant but small part of the problem. The real problem is the notion that the 2nd amendment gives citizens access to weapons that were designed for the foreign battlefield. High powered semi-automatic rifles that fire .223 or .308 rounds at 2500-3000 FPS and deliver 1500 to over 3000lb ft of lethal kinetic energy is the heart of the problem.

    The 2nd amendment has been blown way too far out of realistic proportion. You do not need this powerful of a weapon for protection. If you need it for hunting, you can have a bolt action .233, .308 or 7mm magnum.

    The threat to public safety, the ability for terrorists and crazies to use these weapons in public settings with mass casualties is just a bridge too far we crossed anyway in the false name of the 2nd amendment and it needs desperately to be corrected. That's not to mention the threat these rifles present to Law enforcement.

    It's high time we fix this great public safety risk.

    My solution--with helping the many folks I know who love these weapons--is to simply draw the line and say these weapons are a privilege. They are NOT a right. Your .38 handgun, your bolt action high-powered hunting rifles, your .45 auto--these can be called a right. That's already far beyond the tech of 1790 when the 2nd was penned.

    But these rifles should be a privilege that is earned with 1.) background checks. 2.) submitting your name and gun serial numbers to a searchable digital registry of everyone who buys one, owns one, or sells one. Otherwise you have no skin in the game.

    I'm okay if you want to raise your hand and submit to requirements like this in order to own one of these weapons. But to have the situation we have now where pretty much anyone can get one? There's no control, no way to track purchases, no way to get these weapons out of the hands of criminals and terrorists, it just is untenable.