Chris Murphy vs. the NRA

Sen. Chris Murphy has been attracting a lot of attention in Washington.

It started as early as the day he was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden.

Murphy, posing for photographers with Biden for a family-inclusive recreation of the official swearing of the oath of office, was holding in his arms his 1-year-old son. And when Biden gave the raise-your-right-hand command, both Murphys, father and son, complied at the same time.

The charming pictures and video of the Murphys' joint oath-taking quickly made it around Washington and on to some political blogs.

It was an auspicious start.

But Murphy's surprising big stature for a freshman senator has its roots in the school shooting in his home state that triggered a national discussion on gun control.

Murphy has smartly captured a lot of the spotlight as the discussion moves toward new gun-control laws. It is hard to miss Connecticut's junior senator in the debate. I've caught him by chance more than once holding forth in network television interviews.

He was interviewed one night by Piers Morgan on CNN. I saw him on Fox News, too, saying how "Newtown has fundamentally changed things" in the country when it comes to perceptions about gun control.

Murphy has also been out front, not just in joining in the sponsorship of new gun control legislation, but in attacking the NRA.

In one direct broadside, Murphy called a press conference to broadcast the results of a study showing that the NRA has a poor record in helping candidates at election time.

"In the 2012 general election, the vast majority of U.S. Senate candidates who were backed by the NRA lost their elections, as did Mitt Romney, the NRA-backed nominee for president," Murphy said in an announcement preceding the press conference.

"This report starts to debunk the myth that if you cross the NRA, you have a political price to pay the NRA just isn't what it used to be."

Connecticut's junior senator went on to pen an op-ed piece on politico.com in which he said the NRA "tiger is made of paper."

Murphy also attacked Apple Inc. for labeling an NRA-produced shooting computer game acceptable for children as young as 4 years old.

"How could they think it was a good idea to use the one-month anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook to release a game that teaches 4-year-olds to shoot assault weapons," Murphy said in his widely reported criticism of the shooting game.

It is interesting that Murphy successfully ran for his new Senate seat against a moderate Republican who hugged the middle of the political spectrum here in blue Connecticut.

But Senate candidate Linda McMahon earned a solid AQ rating from the NRA, the best ranking a candidate who has never actually voted on gun issues can earn from the principal gun lobby.

So it turns out that one campaign issue that decidedly separated McMahon and Murphy in the 2012 Senate race has quickly become a defining issue for the newly minted Sen. Murphy.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

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