It did not take long after the racist gun massacre in Buffalo for a familiar sense of resignation to set in on Capitol Hill about the chance that Congress would be able to muster the will to act on meaningful legislation to combat gun violence. In emotional remarks Tuesday at the scene of the mass shooting, President Biden made no call for such action. Afterward, he was frank about his belief that persuading Congress to move would be “very difficult.” Top Democrats were publicly conceding that their paper-thin majority in the Senate meant there was little they could do to prevent the next tragedy, the New York Times reports. “We’re kind of stuck where we are, for the time being,” said Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, playing down the chance that even a modest bill to strengthen background checks for gun purchases could overcome a Republican blockade.
Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT), shares his colleagues’ skepticism that any legislation can move. He is concerned that Democrats may squander a chance to turn the issue of gun safety into a rallying cry for the midterm elections. For a decade, the issue of gun violence has defined Murphy’s career; the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., took place a month after he won his seat. Murphy called on Democrats to run on this issue, "proudly and strongly. My worry is we would have a vote on the Senate floor, but then Democrats would not be willing to go out and talk about that vote in campaigns. The only way we actually change the dynamic on this issue is to make Republicans show we believe this is a winning electoral issue. That’s what we did in 2018. My worry is, we don’t feel the same confidence in this issue as a winning electoral issue in 2022."