Washington (CNN) - A Senate proponent of new gun control measures said Tuesday the National Rifle Association is not the political force it once was and members of Congress should think about that as they consider whether to support restrictions on firearms.
"The reality is that in order to pass this legislation we do have to convince members of Congress that there is not a political price to pay for going against the NRA," Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat told reporters during a conference call.
Murphy said he wanted to "debunk" what he called the myth of the NRA's political power and said the group "simply doesn't win elections like it used to." The Senator noted that of the 16 contested Senate races in 2012 the NRA was on the losing end in 13 cases.
Murphy cited figures on NRA spending in various races including that the NRA spent more than $10 million dollars opposing President Barack Obama. In Senate battles the NRA spent almost $900,000 in a failed effort to unseat Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. The group spent more than $600,000 each to oppose Florida's Bill Nelson and Virginia's Tim Kaine. Both men won their Senate races.
The December 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 20 children and 6 adults were killed occurred in Murphy's home state. He is supporting new proposals to ban military-style assault weapons and to require background checks for ammunition purchases.
"If the design of a weapon is for sport or for hunting, then put in it private hands," Murphy said later Tuesday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight." "But if the design of a weapon is to kill more people, then maybe we should reserve that for the military."
A representative from the NRA will be among those testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the first congressional hearings on gun violence since the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.