A bipartisan package of gun control reforms passed last year by Congress has already prevented more than 100 troubled young people from buying weapons and allowed the seizure of hundreds of firearms from gun traffickers, Connecticut's U.S. senators said Friday.
When it was signed into law last June, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act represented the first new firearm safety policy approved by Congress in almost three decades. U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal held a press conference in the Legislative Office Building to highlight the new law's initial impact.
"We're here today to talk about a success story," said Murphy, who announced Thursday he would seek a third term in office next year.
The two senators provided statistics to demonstrate how provisions of the law have been used in the three months since it was fully implemented in January:
"The takeaway today is: These laws work," Blumenthal said. "They take away not a single gun from law-abiding citizens… But there has been real and tangible progress towards making America safer, just in the first few months."
The senators were joined by Don Anderson, chief of the Darien Police Department and member of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. Anderson stressed the bipartisan nature of last year's law. He said the police chiefs group supported reasonable background check policies.
"Efforts in background checks must be grounded in due process and proper judicial oversight, which I believe we have here in Connecticut," Anderson said.
Connecticut was the first state to adopt a red flag policies designed to allow courts to remove weapons from residents believed to be violent or suicidal. State lawmakers recently expanded the program to allow family members and medical providers to initiate an investigation into a person they are worried may be a danger to themselves or others.
Anderson said calls regarding people in crisis have been on the rise in Connecticut.
"In every town, from the smallest town to the largest city here in Connecticut, we have seen a marked increase in crisis-related calls," Anderson said.
Murphy, who represented Newtown in the U.S. House in 2012 at the time of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and took office in the Senate just a few weeks later, has become a leading advocate of stricter national firearm policies. He touted the new law’s passage as a victory in his Thursday announcement video.
On Friday, Murphy said there was more work to do on gun control, especially given the murders of three children and three adults by a shooter at a school in Nashville earlier this week.
"Every single one of these mass shootings is heartbreaking, especially for us in Connecticut who know what it’s like to go through these tragedies, to look at the pictures of these teachers and these beautiful young children, to have those lives snuffed out in an instant," Murphy said. "It’s unacceptable that we continue to allow this to happen."