Sen. Chris Murphy came to Congress representing the Connecticut community where 20 first-graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Prior to taking office as a senator in 2013 less than a month after the massacre, he represented Newtown, Conn., where the school was located, in the House of Representatives. Almost a decade later, after 19 young students and two adults at a Texas elementary school were gunned down by a teenage shooter in a chillingly similar attack, Murphy gave an impassioned and heartbroken speech on the Senate floor Tuesday. "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 this slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing?" he said, per the New York Times.
Pleading for action on gun control, which he has spent much of his time in Congress trying in vain to get passed, he asked his colleagues repeatedly, "What are we doing? What are we doing?" Angrily pointing to the lack of congressional action amid seemingly unending mass shootings in the US, he asked, "Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?" He added, per NBC News, "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." Later, in comments to reporters, he added of his Republican colleagues, "Spare me the bulls--- about mental illness. We don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world. 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."
That point had been made in his floor speech as well: "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." By failing to do something about it, he said, lawmakers are "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." Video of the speech was shared widely on social media. (Read more Texas stories.)