Senator Chris Murphy made an impassioned plea for gun control following the Uvalde, TX, elementary-school shooting that claimed the lives of 21 people, including 19 young students and two teachers. Speaking on the Senate floor in Washington DC on May 24, the lawmaker began by asking his colleagues, "What are we doing?" — a question he repeatedly posed throughout his address. "Just days after a shooter walked into a grocery store to gun down African American patrons, we have another Sandy Hook on our hands," he said. Murphy represents the state of Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred in 2012.
He then provided a sobering statistic about gun violence in America. "There have been more mass shootings than days in the year," Murphy said, referencing the fact that 212 mass shootings have happened in 2022 so far, according to the nonprofit organization Gun Violence Archive. Denouncing the Senate's inaction on gun reform amid so many deadly massacres, he continued, "Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate, why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job, of putting yourself in a position of authority, if your answer is that as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing? Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?"
"Nowhere else does that happen except here in the United States of America, and it is a choice."
The father of two children, Murphy acknowledged the harmful impact of school shootings on young students. "This isn't inevitable. These kids weren't unlucky. This only happens in this country and nowhere else," he said. "Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day. Nowhere else do parents have to talk to their kids, as I have had to do, about why they got locked into a bathroom and told to be quiet for five minutes just in case a bad man entered that building. Nowhere else does that happen except here in the United States of America, and it is a choice. It is our choice to let it continue."
He concluded by again honing in on lawmakers' reluctance to pass necessary gun-control laws and breaking down the strong message such apathy sends. "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. . . . 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."
As clips of Murphy's speech spread across the internet, he addressed his emotional reaction to the news and put forth another call to action for Republican lawmakers. "Listen, I'm full of sadness and fury right now. That's what you're seeing here," he tweeted while sharing video footage of his comments. "But I'm also determined. And pragmatic. If there is a single of my GOP colleagues who is moved to action by what happened today, I am ready to work with you. I am ready to compromise. To save lives."
Earlier in the day on May 24, suspected 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, killing 21 people and injuring at least 20 more. Following the violent attack and several other deadly shootings across the US this month, President Biden addressed the nation, asking for change. "Don't tell me we can't have an impact on this carnage," he said. "Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in god's name is our backbone? . . . It's time to turn this pain into action for every parent, for every citizen, in this country. We have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: it's time to act."