HARTFORD, Connecticut (WABC) -- Senator Chris Murphy, who came to Congress representing the Connecticut community where 26 elementary school students and educators were killed nearly a decade ago, begged his colleagues Tuesday, as the latest school shooting unfolded, to pass legislation addressing the nation's gun violence problem.
His plea echoed the sentiments of many across the Tri-State area, who reacted to the horrific shooting with despair, anger, frustration and a feeling of helplessness.
"What are we doing?" Murphy asked. "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."
The mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, nearly 2,000 miles away from Newtown, Connecticut, felt all too familiar to residents and officials who saw many similarities to the attack by a lone gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
Murphy took to the Senate floor Tuesday and demanded that lawmakers accomplish what they failed to do after 20 children, mostly 6 or 7 years old, and six educators died there.
Congress has been unable to pass substantial gun violence legislation since the collapse of a bipartisan Senate effort in the aftermath of that massacre.
"I just don't understand why people here think we're powerless," Murphy said. "We aren't."
Senator Charles Schumer called gun violence a plague and said action must be taken.
"There is a plague, a plague upon this nation, a plague of gun violence that has taken over this country," he said. "The problem in the Senate is simple. Too many members on the other side of the aisle are disconnected from the suffering of the American people. Too many members on that side care more about the NRA than they do about families who grieve victims of gun violence...Republicans don't pretend that they support sensible gun safety legislation. They don't pretend to be moved by the fact that 90% of Americans, regardless of party, support something as common sense as background checks."
Other local officials, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, also responded to the news.
"Want to put my heart out to the family members in Texas elementary school, a mass shooting," he said. "These shootings are happening far too often, and the response is not meeting the level of threat and danger that we are experiencing. Not acceptable. We will never surrender our streets to violence."
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy renewed his call for the passage of the comprehensive gun safety legislative package that he initially proposed in April 2021 and urged legislators to pass the same package in April 2022.
"From Uvalde to Buffalo, recent tragedies have reaffirmed that, in the absence of substantive reform, no community is immune to the epidemic of gun violence," he said. "The senseless murders in Texas should fortify our resolve to take action today to avoid similar horrors not through empty words and promises, but through concrete measures to make every classroom and neighborhood safer. Our children, as well as the teachers who devote their lives to their education and safety, deserve nothing less."
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont ordered flags to half-staff.
"We clearly have a gun problem in America," he said. "There are more damn guns on the street than ever before, especially illegal guns. We must test our capacity as a nation in this moment to strengthen public safety and health. I want to be clear - gun violence is a public health crisis. It is incumbent upon lawmakers everywhere, whether it's Connecticut, Texas, or our nation's capital, to rise to the moment in addressing this problem.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul action must be taken, but it is already too late for those killed.
"I'm heartbroken for the victims of today's horrific shooting in Texas," she said. "You should be able to go to school, and to church, and to the grocery store without needing to worry that you're not going to come home. It's past time to put an end to these needless tragedies."
Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit that was founded in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting by parents of the victims, also urged action in the following statement:
"We are grieving with the families of the innocent lives taken in this horrific tragedy. Nineteen children will never come home from school. We know firsthand the unspeakable pain and darkness that descended on Uvalde today. Nearly 10 years ago, our sons, Dylan and Daniel, went to school and never came home.
"All of us at Sandy Hook Promise are devastated by this shooting, haunted by the shocking similarities to the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. We are sickened under the weight of our sadness as we watch another community of families suffering their worst nightmare.
"Having lived through a mass shooting, still enduring the pain of our own children being killed in their first-grade classrooms by senseless violence, we know that nothing is going to bring back the precious lives lost in Uvalde. We know that the road ahead for the Robb Elementary School community will be incredibly difficult. We want to offer the families our compassion and commitment to honor their loved ones, along with ours, as we continue our mission to end gun violence. We also offer ourselves to them, in whatever way we can be of service to their needs.
"For everyone else waking up today - take a moment as you send your child to school and imagine what the Uvalde community is experiencing. Take your heartache, your fear, your anger and sadness, and channel them into action. We must take action today and every day until this epidemic of violence ends. Call on your elected officials to pass commonsense legislation now that protects the safety and lives of children. This can be done while upholding second amendment rights. Now is the time to take bold action; as a country, how much longer can we stand by while innocent children continue to be killed?"
Sen. Murphy expressed hope that compromise on gun control measures is possible.
"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. "But by doing something, we at least stop sending this quiet message of endorsement to These killers brains are breaking, who see the highest levels of government doing nothing, shooting after shooting."
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