• Michael McAuliff

Chris Murphy Begs Senate To Act After Uvalde

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) won election to the Senate in 2012, and not long after, a gunman killed 26 students and teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, in his congressional district.


Since then, doing something about gun violence has been probably his top priority as a lawmaker.


Ten years later, it's no better. A devastated-looking Murphy took to the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, soon after news of the slaughter in Uvalde, Texas -- again -- shattered people's sense of American decency and humanity to plead for his colleagues to act.


"What are we doing? What are we doing?" Murphy said. "Just days after a shooter walked into a grocery store to gun down African-American patrons, we have another Sandy Hook on our hands."


Just a week earlier, after the massacre in Buffalo, Murphy had delivered a long speech asking his fellow lawmakers to consider why violence happens so often here, how a country founded in part on violence continues to exist as a nation with easy access to weapons -- which people use horribly, daily.


In his five-minute address Tuesday, he didn't repeat all of that, but made it clear it was the context, and that the United States Senate does have the ability to act.


"There've been more mass shootings than days in the year," Murphy said. "Our kids are living in fear every single time they set foot in a classroom because they think they're going to be next. What are we doing?"


He pointed to all the work politicians do to win and keep office, only to act impotent in the face of the murder of innocent kids.


"Why are you here, if not to solve a problem as existential as this?" Murphy said. "This isn't inevitable. These kids weren't unlucky. This only happens in this country -- and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day."


He said he was under no illusion that Republicans would be willing to do the big things like take steps to curb the supply of arms in America, but he thought maybe, this time, they might be willing to at least do a little,



"I'm here on this floor to beg, to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues -- find a path forward here," Murphy said. "Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely."


"It will not solve the problem of American violence by itself," he said. "But by doing something we at least stop sending this quiet message of endorsement to these killers whose brains are breaking, who see the highest levels of government doing nothing shooting after shooting."


He ended how he began.


"What are we doing? Why are we here? Why are we here?"


Later, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer put two bill on the Senate calendar that passed the House last year -- one to improve background checks, and one to close the loophole that allowed the gunman who murdered parishioners in Charleston, S.C.


Whether the required 60 senators will be willing to vote for those bills is uncertain, but it seemed unlikely 10 Republican would join 50 Democrats to do so.