After carefully trying to thread the needle between the grief after the massacre in Newtown, Conn., and the push for new gun laws, the National Rifle Association has found itself in hot water over the words of one of its state lobbyists.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) on Tuesday called on the NRA to “repudiate and reject” the idea from one of its state lobbyists that gun rights advocates simply need to wait out the “Connecticut Effect” until the call for new gun laws pass.
“The ‘Connecticut Effect’ will last and it will be a call to action. The NRA lobbyist’s comment … is callous and offensive,” Blumenthal said during a Senate hearing on gun laws. “And I call on the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre to repudiate and reject it. I think it is an insult to all of us in America but most especially to the 26 families in Newtown who directly suffered this loss.”
On Monday, ThinkProgress reported the “Connecticut Effect” idea was recently put forward by Bob Welch, an NRA lobbyist in Wisconsin. Welch essentially called the anguish over Newtown a bump in the road for the effort to make gun laws less restrictive.
“We have a strong agenda coming up for next year, but of course a lot of that’s going to be delayed as the ‘Connecticut Effect’ has to go through the process,” Welch said. He also reiterated the NRA’s opposition to the so-called “gun show loophole” and bragged about keeping it off the Wisconsin legislative agenda so far.
“After Connecticut I had one of the leading Democrats in the legislature — he was with us most of the time, not all the time — he came to me and said, “Bob, I got all these people in my caucus that really want to ban guns and do all this bad stuff, we gotta give them something. How about we close this gun show loophole? Wouldn’t that be good?” Welch said. “And I said, “no, we’re not going to do that.” And so far, nothing’s happened on that.”
ThinkProgress posted the audio Monday.
Gun control advocates on both the political and advocacy side of the spectrum have acknowledged that moving quickly after Newtown is an important part of building momentum for new gun regulations. But they also have said things have changed fundamentally on gun control, with well-funded groups pushing for new regulations coming online and polling showing that the public favors things like universal background checks. They also have pointed to quotes like Welch’s as a sign the NRA is losing the post-Newtown messaging war.