HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who came to Congress representing Sandy Hook, begged his colleagues to finally pass legislation that addresses the nation’s continuing gun violence problem as the country’s latest school shooting unfolded Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas.
A gutted Murphy took to the floor and demanded that lawmakers do what they failed to do after 26 students and educators were killed in Newtown, the area he represented as a congressman.
The Democrat gave an impassioned speech, urging his colleagues to finally find a compromise.
“Our heart is breaking for these families. Every ounce of love and thoughts and prayers we can send, we are sending,” said Murphy, who represented Newtown, Conn. where Sandy Hook Elementary School is located, as a former U.S. Representative.
“But 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. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely,” he said.
The tragedy in Texas appeared to be similar to the 2012 mass shooting in Connecticut, where 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot his way into the locked building and then killed 20 first graders and six educators with an AR-15-type rifle legally purchased by his mother. He then killed himself as police arrived. Before going to the school, Lanza fatally shot his mother at their Newtown home.
“I just don’t understand why people here think we’re powerless,” Murphy told reporters. “We aren’t.”
Murphy said he is “so willing to bend over backward to find a compromise” on the legislation. “I want to show this country that we care.”
A report by Connecticut’s child advocate said Lanza’s severe and deteriorating mental health problems, his preoccupation with violence and access to his mother’s weapons “proved a recipe for mass murder.”
Advocacy groups that formed in the wake of the Connecticut shooting expressed dismay at the news of shooting the Robb Elementary School, where at least 14 children and one educator were killed.
“We are devastated by yet another heart-wrenching school shooting incident in America – this time in Uvalde, Texas, nearly 10 years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy,” said Po Murray, chair of the Newtown Action Alliance, in a written statement. “For the past decade, we have warned all Americans, including elected politicians across the nation, that if a mass shooting can happen in Sandy Hook then it can happen anywhere. We have begged presidents, all members of Congress, governors and state representatives to strengthen the federal and state gun laws to keep our families and our communities safe.”
Murphy expressed hope that compromise on gun control measures is possible.
“I understand my Republican colleagues will not agree to everything that I may support, but there is a common denominator that we can find,” he said, acknowledging the problem of gun violence can’t be solved overnight. “But by doing something, we at least stop sending this quiet message of endorsement to These killers’ brains are breaking, who see the highest levels of government doing nothing, shooting after shooting.”