(NewsNation) — A shooting Tuesday that killed 19 students and two teachers at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school prompted U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut to make an impassioned plea for change on the Senate floor.
“Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?” said Murphy, a Democrat whose jurisdiction includes Newtown, Connecticut, which was rocked by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. “This isn’t inevitable. These kids weren’t ‘unlucky.’ This only happens in our country and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day.”
The shooting happened less than two weeks after 10 Black shoppers were shot and killed during a racist assault at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store.
“What are we doing?” Murphy asked. “Days after a shooter walked into a grocery store to gun down African-American patrons, we have another Sandy Hook on our hands.”
Murphy recalled hearing students at Sandy Hook Elementary School after the 2012 shooting that killed 20 students and six adults.
“If they started to get nightmares during the day, reliving stepping over their classmates’ bodies as they tried to flee the school in one classroom, that (safe) word was ‘monkey,’” Murphy said. “Over and over and over through the day, kids would stand up and yell ‘Monkey!’ and a teacher or a paraprofessional would have to go over to that kid, take them out of the classroom and talk to them about what they had seen.”
NewsNation asked Murphy if this moment would be different as nothing legislatively changed after the Sandy Hook shooting.
He was not optimistic about any major changes, like an assault weapons ban, saying he does not think they can get it done realistically in this Senate.
Murphy did say he thinks some Republicans would be willing to work with him on some things like preventing criminals from getting guns, red flag laws and possibly even raising the age where people can buy assault weapons.
Murphy didn’t name any specific legislation, but called for cooperation from Democrats and Republicans to send a message to mass shooters.
“By doing something, we at least stop sending a quiet message of endorsement to these killers whose brains are breaking, who see the highest levels of government doing nothing, shooting after shooting.”
Murphy also talked to NewsNation about what this moment is like for him, not as a legislator, but as a dad.
“We have two kids, a fourth-grader and a seventh-grader. And I know what they’re talking to their classmates about today,” he said. “I know that they are all a little afraid, walking into their school, wondering whether they’re next. And you know, it’s hard enough being a kid today, the fact that American kids have to worry about getting shot when they go to school, something that no other child in the high-income world has to worry about. We don’t have to accept that.”