On Tuesday, a gunman opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing at least 18 children and one teacher. It’s the most devastating school shooting since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 and it left a nation overrun by gun violence once again in shock, exacerbated by lawmakers’ perpetual inaction. Shortly after the tragedy, one of them took to the floor of the Senate to beg GOP leaders to help them do something, anything.
That lawmaker is Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who was previously a representative for the district that included Sandy Hook Elementary School. His voice cracking, he addressed his colleagues to finally spring into action.
“Sandy Hook will never, ever be the same,” Murphy told his colleagues. “This community in Texas will never, ever be the same. Why? Why are we here? If not to try to make sure that fewer schools and fewer communities go through what Sandy Hook has gone through. What Uvalde is going through.”
Instead of mere grandstanding, Murphy tried to reach across the aisle to effect real change.
“I am here on this floor to beg — to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues,” Murphy thundered. “Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely. I understand my Republican colleagues may not agree to everything I support, but there is a common denominator we can find. There is a place where we can achieve agreement…”
Murphy also reminded his fellow lawmakers that no other similar country has a gun violence epidemic. “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. “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 also shot down one of the excuses pro-gun advocates cite when addressing massacres. “Spare me the bulls*it about mental illness. We don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world,” he said. “You cannot explain this through a prism of mental illness because we don’t–we’re not an outlier on mental illness. We’re an outlier when it comes to access to firearms and the ability of criminals and very sick people to get their hands on firearms. That’s what makes America different,”
“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. 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,”
Muprhy concluded by asking them to look in the mirror. “What are we doing? Why are we here? What are we doing?” he said. “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 position of authority if your answer as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, is we do nothing? What are we doing? Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?”
He then tried to reach across the aisle again. “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. “It will not solve the problem of American violence by itself, 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.”
You can watch Murphy’s full, fiery speech in the video above.
(Via CBS News)