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Eye On Politics: Blumenthal Says Gun Debate Not Dead In Washington

Hopes For Action By Year's End
Sen. Richard Blumenthal as Sandy Hook victim Dawn Hochsprung's daughter Erica Lafferty (3rd L) kisses Sandy Hook victim Vicki Soto's sister Carlee Soto (2nd L) following the Senate vote on gun control - Washington, D.C. - April 17, 2013 (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal as Sandy Hook victim Dawn Hochsprung’s daughter Erica Lafferty (3rd L) kisses Sandy Hook victim Vicki Soto’s sister Carlee Soto (2nd L) following the Senate vote on gun control – Washington, D.C. – April 17, 2013 (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Tragedy In Newtown

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - After the failure to pass gun control reform in the U.S. Senate last week, you might think the issue is dead on Capitol Hill. Sen. Richard Blumenthal says you should think again.

The senior U.S. Senator from Connecticut checked in to speak with WCBS 880’s Steve Scott for Friday’s Eye on Politics segment.

He said he and Sen. Chris Murphy are keeping the discussion alive.

“Our next step is to continue to raise the rage, continue to organize and galvanize… across the country, but also work with a number of our colleagues who may have voted no to common sense and meaningful gun safety measures, but now will reconsider their vote in light of what they’re hearing from their constituents,” Blumenthal told Scott. “Clearly, the American people are angry and upset that Congress has completely failed to take any measures and we’re working with a variety of our colleagues, on a bipartisan basis, to bring this measure back. We’re not going away.”

He said a number of his colleagues are hearing from their constituents and beginning to heed the message which is that “the Senate said no America, but the American people are not taking no for an answer.”

He said there have been 3,700 gun deaths since the Newtown massacre as part of why people are pushing Congress for reform.

What kind of deal does he think is realistically possible?

“With a few very very minor changes, without weakening the bill, I believe that we can achieve meaningful criminal background checks for all gun purchasers, eliminating the gun show loophole for private sales, we can achieve a ban on illegal trafficking like straw purchases, an initiative on school safety – providing for alarms, locks, training, even school resource officers, as well as a mental health initiative,” Blumenthal said. “I think those elements are the fundamental that need to be pursued.”

When will bill be brought back?

“My hope is hope is that it will be by the end of the year,” he said. “I think that timetable is realistic. We need to permit the Senate to go forward with other measures like immigration reform and the key bills that are on the calendar, but the Majority Leader and the leadership consisting of Sen. Schumer of New York and Sen. Durbin of Illinois, have been strong advocates and very staunch supporters of gun safety reform.”

“I’m very very hopeful about the prospects that the American people can really be heard and heeded in this effort and that the Senate will respond,” he said.

Will the Boston Marathon bombings enter into the discussion?

“The killing of a courageous police officer, the MIT security officer in Cambridge, certainly adds momentum,” Blumenthal said, making reference to the death of Sean Collier. “He was killed, evidently, with a gun that was illegally possessed by both the brothers – one because he lacked the permit, the other because he was too young to have a permit – and the gun itself reported to be a .9mm Luger had its serial number erased very possibly was illegally trafficked or purchased.”

How difficult does Blumenthal expect the fight to be?

“There is always pushback, always a battle when it comes to gun safety and common sense measures because the opposition, special interests and particularly the NRA, has maintained a stranglehold over the process and we need to break that stranglehold,” he said.

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