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Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar Press Chris Murphy on AR-15 Ban: 'Why Is This One a Non-Starter?'

The senator insisted Republicans are "negotiating in good faith," even as they vote down commonsense gun safety measures.
  • Whoopi and Joy took turns grilling Sen. Chris Murphy on The View Tuesday morning (Photos: ABC)
    Whoopi and Joy took turns grilling Sen. Chris Murphy on The View Tuesday morning (Photos: ABC)

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    After weeks of urging Congress to enact commonsense gun reform, the women of The View finally had a chance to lobby Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on the matter. The co-hosts, particularly Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, repeatedly asked Murphy about a potential ban assault-style weapons, but he left them little to work with as he insisted Democrats "don't have 10 Republican votes" to get the measure passed, so attempting it would be futile.

    "You're working with a bipartisan group of senators to come up with a series of gun safety measures, but a ban on AR-15s is not one of them. I'm just going to ask, why not?" said Whoopi, just seconds after introducing the Connecticut senator. "And then I'll ask you, what is on the table? Because if we don't start with one gun, out of the 90,000 guns that you could actually go buy, why is this one a non-starter?"

    "As you all know, we've got a rule in the Senate that requires you to get at least 10 Republican votes for anything," replied Murphy. "Right now, we don't have 10 Republican votes to ban these AR-15 assault-style weapons."

    When Whoopi followed up and asked whether the bipartisan group has discussed raising the minimum purchase age from 18 to 21 for semi-automatic assault weapons — "Even Joe Manchin said he'd support that!" she said — Murphy avoided providing a direct answer. "We're trying to figure out if there's something we can do with this population, 18-21, that tends to be the profile of the mass shooter to make sure there's an ability to find out whether they have any red flags or warning signs before they get their hands on a weapon," he said.

    Though Murphy is confident that the Senate will be able to agree on measures to address the gun violence epidemic, the co-hosts (and perhaps the rest of the country) are more skeptical. "One of the Republicans that you are negotiating with is pro-gun Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. So it was concerning when he tweeted a few days ago when he tweeted that making gun laws more restrictive was just not going to happen," said Sunny Hostin, adding that "he was handpicked" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to join the bipartisan committee. "Does that make you question if the Republicans are really negotiating in good faith, or perhaps just running down the clock heading towards the midterms?"

    "Maybe I'm naïve, but I really do believe that the Republicans that are part of these negotiations are negotiating in good faith," replied Murphy. "While we are very different in our views, we do both agree that we are not willing to do anything that compromises people's Second Amendment rights. We are focusing on keeping weapons out of the hands on dangerous people, and I think we can find agreement on that."

    "We can't find agreement right now on an issue like an outright ban on assault weapons," he continued. "But we can find an agreement that saves lives around making sure that only law-abiding citizens get access to really powerful firearms."

    But the co-hosts weren't done skewering Murphy's inaction on assault weapons quite yet. In the final minutes of the interview, Behar reminded the senator that "these AR-15s and all these semi-automatic rifles were banned at one point" until the ban expired in 2004. "Why can't that ban be put back in place? What is the problem with these guns?!" she said.

    Murphy noted that during the 10 years the assault weapons ban was in place, there was "a pretty dramatic decrease in the number of mass shootings," before returning to his previous politics-as-usual stance. "I think what we need to do right now is show progress. I could walk away from these negotiations because we're not talking about everything that I support, but I think the parents that I talk to in Connecticut, and I think the parents that are talking to Sen. Cornyn in Texas want us to make progress," he said.

    "And maybe we can show to Republicans that the sky doesn't fall when you support some commonsense gun safety measures. And maybe that will allow us to make some more progress later on," continued Murphy. "But right now, I know the people I represent in Connecticut are not going to support me walking away from negotiations because we're not going to get everything at once."

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    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: Whoopi Goldberg, ABC, The View, Chris Murphy, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, Gun Violence, politics, Texas School Shooting