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Sandy Hook families, Sen. Murphy urge Congress to take action in response to Texas school shooting

Chris Murphy, Dianne Feinstein, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Ed Markey, Sharon Risher, Tina Meins
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., center, and other Democratic senators call for gun control legislation in the wake of the mass shooting in an Orlando LGBT nightclub this week, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2016. He is joined by, from left, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Rev. Sharon Risher, a clinical trauma chaplain in Dallas who lost her mother Ethel Lance in the racially-motivated shooting at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, N.C., in 2015, Tina Meins, whose father Damian was a county employee in San Bernardino who was shot and killed at his office by a co-worker and his wife who pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) , responding to the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting delivered an emotional Senate floor speech Tuesday night. Murphy urged his colleagues to finally do something about the proliferation of guns in the country.

“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 as the slaughter increases as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing? What are we doing? Why are you here?” Murphy asked his colleagues.

“I’m here on this floor to beg. To literally get down on my hands and knees to beg my colleagues. Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely,” he pleaded.

Parallels to Newtown

Since the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, Murphy has been unsuccessful in getting his colleagues to pass stricter gun regulations.

Po Murray founded the Newtown Action Alliance in the aftermath of the shooting that killed 20 children and six educators nearly 10 years ago.

“The thought of these families not being able to see their children right now because they were killed in the classrooms is just heartbreaking and so unfair," Murray said. "There was no justice for the Sandy Hook families and those children for the last decade and I’m very very angry.”

At least eighteen children and a teacher died in the Uvalde shooting, making it the most deadly elementary school shooting in the United States since Sandy Hook.

“My very first thought was: 'how many are dead?'" said Erica Lafferty, with Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group. "There are so many instances of whether it be a mass shooting at a grocery store or a church or domestic violence or everyday gun violence that don’t hit the headlines, but when it hits the headlines, my very first thought is 'how many are dead?'”

Lafferty's mother was Dawn Hochsprung, a school principal who died in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.

“She went out into that hallway on December 14 not to confront a gunman expecting to lose her life. She wanted to talk down a sad kid. And what happened is she saved the majority of the kids in that school and the majority of her staff," Lafferty said. "But that took her from me and from her grandchildren and from my sister and from her mom. That’s not something you think about when you go to school to be a teacher.”

Lafferty said it’s hard for most to comprehend what the experience will be like for those most affected by the shooting.

“This is scary, it’s stressful, it’s traumatizing. The families and community that were impacted today are walking into a lifetime of hell that I cannot even describe.”

Lafferty said she knows gun control legislation isn’t likely on a federal level with the current makeup of Congress. But she said Americans can make a difference through education and advocacy — and through voting

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.
Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.