U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy comments on Texas school shooting Credit: Courtesy of C-SPAN

(Updated 9:40 a.m., Wednesday, May 25) U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy begged his colleagues Tuesday to take action to prevent another school shooting like the one in Texas that claimed 21 lives, including 19 students and two teachers, while wounding others. 

The shooting is the second deadliest since 26 were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in 2012. Tuesday’s death toll is also higher than that of the 2018 mass murder in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed.  

In a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday Murphy asked his colleagues: “What are we doing? What are we doing?”

Murphy who has tried since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to expand gun background checks has been unsuccessful in his efforts. In 2016 he filibustered for 15 hours to get a debate on the measure, but was unsuccessful at securing enough support. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has an A+ rating from the NRA, tweeted that he was “horrified and heartbroken,” but didn’t indicate he was willing to take any legislative action. The Senate is currently divided 50-50. All Democrats and at least 10 Republicans would need to vote for a measure to strengthen background checks or take action on ghost guns or a handful of other measures Democratic lawmakers have been proposing for years. 

“In Sandy Hook Elementary School after those kids came back into those classrooms, they had to adopt a practice in which there would be a safe word that the kids would say if they started to get thoughts in their brain about what they saw that day. If they started to get nightmares during the day, reliving stepping over their classmates bodies as they tried to flee the school,” Murphy said

“In one classroom, that word was monkey, and over and over and over through the day kids would stand up and yell monkey, and a teacher or paraprofessional would have to go over to that kid, take them out of the classroom, talk to them about what they had seen, work them through their issues. Sandy Hook will never ever be the same. This community in Texas will never ever be the same.”

He ended by begging his colleagues to: “Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely.”

Po Murray, the chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance, said they have been warning politicians for a decade that “if a mass shooting can happen in Sandy Hook then it can happen anywhere.”

But she said that won’t happen unless politicians take notice and do something. 

“Any elected officials who only send thoughts and prayers after this latest shooting are willing to sacrifice our children to protect the gun industry profits and they should be voted out in 2022 and beyond,” Murray said. 

Gov. Ned Lamont directed flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the Texas victims. 

“Nearly 10 years after Sandy Hook, Connecticut knows this feeling all too well. Our collective hearts and prayers go out to the families in Uvalde trying to process the unimaginable,” Lamont said.

“We clearly have a gun problem in America,” Lamont said. “There are more damn guns on the street than ever before, especially illegal guns. We must test our capacity as a nation in this moment to strengthen public safety and health. I want to be clear — gun violence is a public health crisis. It is incumbent upon lawmakers everywhere, whether it’s Connecticut, Texas, or our nation’s capital, to rise to the moment in addressing this problem.”

In a speech Tuesday night on the Senate floor, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, said they have all the legislation they need. He said the measures are drafted and have been fully vetted. 

“We know these actions won’t save everyone,” Blumenthal said. “But there can be no doubt that each of them will save some lives. Expanding background checks, and closing glaring loopholes in our background check system, getting untraceable ghost guns and military assault weapons  off our streets, protecting domestic violence survivors from gun violence, keeping guns out of the hands of domestic terrorists and violent extremists, and keeping guns out of the hands of people who are dangerous to themselves or others, red flag statute, preventing kids from accidentally and unintentionally shooting themselves with unsecured firearms, Ethan’s Law.”