Innovative solutions are not necessary to combat gun violence, according to U.S. Senator Chris Murphy.
“Here’s my plea to you: don’t search too hard for innovative solutions,” Murphy said. “We really don’t need to make up new solutions. We actually know what works.”
Boston College Law School’s Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy welcomed Murphy on Friday as the keynote speaker of its virtual conference on gun laws and safety.
Murphy, the junior senator from Connecticut, explained “what works” with respect to gun safety—taking greater caution in distributing weapons, specifically assault weapons.
“We don’t allow for you to buy assault weapons in [Connecticut],” he said. “That doesn’t mean that you can’t get them. It doesn’t mean that bad people still can’t get weapons. We just make it a lot harder for that to happen.”
Murphy said these methods result in lower rates of gun violence, directly comparing Connecticut’s rates to Florida’s.
“Connecticut has a rate of gun violence 400 percent lower than Florida,” he said. “People in Connecticut are different than people in Florida, I’m sure that’s true, but they’re not 400 percent different. The reason that we have lower gun violence rates is because we’re just a lot more careful about who gets a weapon.”
Murphy also noted that while the regulations of guns and gun ownership may be a contentious issue today, U.S. history reflects a notable precedent for gun control.
“From the very beginning, America was a country that regulated guns,” he said. “Our Founding Fathers believed in the regulation of guns. Fast forward to the 1800s, and states all across this country, especially as the handgun became more ubiquitous, started passing laws that, today, would be considered politically unpalatable.”
Though Murphy said the fight against gun violence does not require innovative solutions, recent gun legislation passed in the Senate this summer required “new” solutions to gain bipartisan support.
“It wasn’t innovation dictated by policy needs, it was innovation dictated by political needs,” he said. “Again, I believe that there’s not a lot of reason to innovate if you’re just looking for what works, but we have to innovate in order to find 60 votes.”
This new legislation implemented red flag laws, enhanced background checks for prospective gun owners, and increased the budget for anti-gun violence programs at the state and local levels, Murphy said.
“I’m proud of what we did,” Murphy said. “I think what we passed this summer is a breakthrough. I think it fundamentally shifts the power dynamics on the issue of gun violence.”
Murphy also discussed the implications of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. In the landmark case, the court ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right to publicly carry a firearm.
“The Bruen decision is just basically providing an invitation to conservative, politically motivated district court and appellate court judges to just make up whatever justification they need in order to impose their political views on the country,” he said.
A panel of guest speakers further unpacked the impacts of Bruen following Murphy’s keynote address. Other panels at the conference focused on community violence prevention as well as new gun laws and regulations currently being implemented in the United States.
Murphy called his audience to action in his address, urging people to see the full adverse effects of guns on American life.
“American violence is mostly about guns,” he said. “It’s mostly about the guns and our decision, a long time ago, to allow these weapons to move into America at a rate without parallel amongst like countries. And so I just want to frame your discussion with a sense of urgency about getting this right.”