WASHINGTON -- Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut sent a letter Monday to the CEO of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, demanding that the NRA stop making robocalls to families in Newtown, Conn.
Calling the robocalls "absolutely beyond the pale," the two Democratic senators said the calls, which contained political messages attacking gun control, "open a wound that these families are still trying hard to heal."
The calls were first reported Friday by The Huffington Post, which learned of them from a local gun-control advocacy group. Follow-up interviews with Newtown residents who received the calls shed light on how upsetting they were to families in the area, coming just three months after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"You'd think [the NRA] could have scrubbed the list [of Newtown residents], just to be decent," Newtown resident Tom Maurath told HuffPost. "Instead, you're making an unsolicited call with no opt-out that my children could answer."
Blumenthal, the state's senior senator, wrote a Monday blog post about the robocalls for Think Progress, in which he declared, "NRA leadership demonstrated yet again last week just how low they are willing to go in their unconscionable effort to block any and all common sense, life saving gun violence legislation." The tone of the blog post was more political than that of the Murphy-Blumenthal letter, but both take aim directly at the NRA.
Following its Easter recess, the Senate is scheduled to consider a number of proposed gun control measures, setting the stage for a bruising battle between the NRA, long one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, and a new group of gun control advocacy groups led by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization funded largely by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
READ the full text of the Murphy-Blumenthal letter.
March 25, 2013
Mr. Wayne LaPierre
Executive Vice President
National Rifle Association of America
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
Dear Mr. LaPierre:
We write to you today on behalf of our constituents in Newtown, Connecticut who are outraged by your inappropriate automated phone calls pushing the National Rifle Association's extreme agenda being received by members of the Newtown community. With these robocalls, the NRA has stooped to a new low in the debate over how to best protect our kids and our communities. We call on you to immediately stop calling the families and friends of the victims in Newtown.
Like all Americans, we were horrified by the shooting on December 14th at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We were with the parents that day and the days that followed and can confidently tell you that the parents of the victims, and the community as a whole, are still struggling to comprehend the horror of that day. Your robocalls pushing our constituents to contact their members of Congress to urge opposition to common sense gun safety legislation are incredibly insensitive.
In a community that's still very much in crisis, to be making these calls opens a wound that these families are still trying hard to heal. Put yourself in the shoes of a victim's family member who gets a call at dinnertime asking them to support more assault weapons in our schools and on our streets.
Unfortunately, this latest act is just another example in a long line of offensive steps your organization has taken in the wake of this tragic shooting. Your press conference one week after the tragedy articulated your surreal vision that the only way to solve the epidemic of gun violence in America is through the use of more guns. One month later you released "NRA: Practice Range," an Apple app that allows individuals to shoot targets in a variety of settings and with a number of different weapons, including handguns, an AK-47 and an M-16. More recently, one of the NRA's Wisconsin lobbyists remarked that your extreme agenda may be delayed by the so-called "Connecticut effect."
Robocalling members of the Newtown community to promote your agenda less than 100 days after the horrific shooting is absolutely beyond the pale. Again, we call on you to show some basic decency and cease and desist these calls.
Christopher S. Murphy
United States Senator
United States Senator