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Senator Chris Murphy, a political star is born over N.R.A. and gun issue - NY Times’ Maureen Dowd hails a new voice in the battle against more guns

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Senator Chris Murphy

Irish America has a new political star as a result of the Sandy Hook gun massacre, according to Maureen Dowd.

The highly influential NY Times columnist devoted her entire column Sunday to Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy’s rise since the gun massacre as the leading politician unafraid to take on the N.R.A.

Murphy, the father of two small children, even refuses to let his kids have guns.

“We have lots of trucks and trains,” he told Dowd,  “But you know it doesn’t matter. My son still picks up anything that’s shaped like a gun, like a certain construction of Legos, and uses it as a gun. But he knows that when I leave home I’m working on getting guns away from the bad guys, so he’s a little more sensitive now.”

Dowd describes Murphy, the youngest senator at 39, as "tall, attractive and crisp," whose anonymity ended and whose reputation began to soar after Newtown. Dowd says he was transformed.

“I got to the firehouse a couple hours after the shooting,” Murphy says “I sometimes wish I didn’t see some of the things I saw. It’s not that in the past I’ve been disconnected from the issues I’ve worked on. But this is the first one in which I’ve felt an emotional imperative to deliver. These parents are my contemporaries. I’ve got two little boys at home just younger than the ones that were killed.”

Now he’s at the forefront of the fight and was with the families in D.C. this past week.

“They thought they were coming down here to argue for a ban on high-capacity magazines and universal background checks, and we told them that they were coming to argue to avert a filibuster and allow us to debate,” he told Dowd. “And that was really heartbreaking and deflating for some of them. But they rose to the occasion, and it was wonderful to see them at the end of the trip feeling like they had made a difference.”

He gave his maiden speech recounting the story of Anne Marie Murphy, the Sandy Hook special education teacher who died protecting an autistic student, 6-year-old Dylan Hockley.

“That morning, I read it aloud in my office by myself and I cried,” he recalled. “I made it through, barely, on the floor. I’m not an overly emotional guy, but I’ve been as emotional as I’ve ever been for the past four months.”

“Gun ownership has dramatically dropped over the last 20 years, so now it’s about selling a larger number of more expensive weapons to a smaller number of customers,” the senator told Dowd. “The N.R.A., doing the bidding of the industry, ratchets up paranoia about government so that those people will go out and buy more guns.”

But the glory days of the N.R.A. may be over and it will be politicians like Murphy who will hasten their decline.

A political star is born.

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