By Michael Sol Warren
BU News Service
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined a panel of politicians and experts to discuss solutions to gun violence in America on Tuesday morning at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The panel was hosted by the gun-control reform lobby Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Healey was joined on the panel by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, Americans for Responsible Solutions co-founder Mark Kelly and pollster Anna Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. Peter Ambler, the executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions, served as the panel’s moderator.
The discussion was focused on how to pass gun control legislation at the federal and state levels rather than introducing new ideas. The speakers emphasized that the majority of Americans support “common sense” gun control laws.
Healey’s role on the panel was primarily to show that gun control laws in Massachusetts have been effective. Healey used her recent decision to crack down on the sales of “copy-cat” assault weapons in the Commonwealth as an example of effective policy, despite the blowback that the action has received.
“It’s a priority for me because people are dying and this is preventable,” Healey said. “I wear a hat as a state attorney general that is about protecting people.”
Healey added that she strongly believes that gun violence should be considered a public health threat, and as such it should be studied by the Centers for Disease Control. She said that studying the issue will lead to more effective solutions.
“I think the American public is at a point where they have seen enough,” Healey said. “Who doesn’t think that their family isn’t at risk at some level? Who doesn’t think that an Aurora, a San Bernardino, an Orlando can’t happen in their community?”
Fitting in with the convention as a whole, the panelists took the opportunity to praise Hillary Clinton’s pro-gun control stances.
“There were a lot of cynics who said that Hillary Clinton was going to drop this issue once the primary was over, that it was just used to drive a wedge with Senator Sanders. They were wrong,” Senator Murphy said.
The panel also made it clear that they were impressed with Vice-Presidential candidate Tim Kaine’s record on gun control.
“Tim Kaine is somebody who has put gun violence prevention front and center when he served as Governor of Virginia and as a United States Senator,” Kelly said.
Much of the conversation was also centered on the lobby’s efforts to swing competitive legislative races. The lobby’s work to oust New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte was used repeatedly as an example. Ambler said that Ayotte has repeatedly voted against any gun control legislation in Congress, and that the lobby’s work against Ayotte was meant to “hold her accountable for her vote”.
Update: July 30, 11:30 a.m.
Sen. Ayotte’s campaign has responded to Ambler’s comments on her voting record. Ayotte’s Press Secretary Chloe Rockow said that the Senator has voted for multiple “common sense” gun control measures. This includes votes for Texas Senator John Cornyn’s bill to stop people on the “no-fly” list from guns and the bipartisan Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act of 2016.