Horror turns to fury over Texas school shooting

Horror over an elementary school shooting in Texas on Tuesday that left at least 14 students and a teacher dead quickly turned to fury as Democrats slammed Congress for its inability to take action on guns.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) took to the Senate floor shortly after the terrible news from the small city of Uvalde circulated throughout Washington, D.C., and the country, scolding his colleagues for not doing more to combat gun violence.

“What are we doing?” asked an angry Murphy, who represents a state where the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 left 20 6- and 7-year-olds dead.

“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?” Murphy said. “What are we doing?”

“I understand my Republican colleagues will not agree to everything that I may support, but there is a common denominator that we can find,” Murphy added.

The shooting in Uvalde — a largely Hispanic community about 85 miles west of San Antonio — is the worst elementary school shooting since the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn., and worst overall school shooting since Parkland, Fla., in 2018.

It also comes about a week after the Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store shooting in a predominantly Black neighborhood that killed 10 people and injured three others.  

“It’s a horrible situation. And unfortunately, now an American problem that it seems many lawmakers refuse to solve,” Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) said in a CNN phone interview as details of the shooting rolled in.

“And the problem is that firearm homicides have increased 40 percent for people between the ages 10 and 24 years old in America. Those are the stats for 2020. It’s unacceptable, and I can’t believe lawmakers refuse to act,” Escobar said.

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the Parkland shooting, made an emotional speech on MSNBC in response to the shooting, saying politicians have “f—ing failed our kids again.”

“I’m done. I’ve had it. How many more times are we going to sit back? I’m going to listen to that governor of Texas talk about why he pushed … laws in Texas that made it easier for the guns to be had by those who want to kill? How many more times?” Guttenberg said. “I’m speechless. I don’t know what to say.”

A compromise gun control measure crafted in the aftermath of Sandy Hook by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) failed in the Senate in 2013 in a 54-46 vote. Four Democrats who are no longer in office joined Republicans to block the legislation. The measure would have increased background checks on gun sales.

No major national legislation to increase gun control has succeeded in the decade since, despite numerous Democratic politicians, including President Biden, calling for bans on sales of assault-style weapons and other measures. After the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, the Department of Justice federally banned bump stocks, which help a shooter to rapidly fire a semi-automatic weapon.

Manchin just last week expressed his opinion that even after the Buffalo shooting, movement on gun reform did not look likely.

“Are we going to another vote for the sake of taking a vote? Let’s do some mental illness reform,” Manchin said.

Murphy brushed off any focus on mental health over new firearm reform measures. 

“Spare me the bullshit about mental illness. We don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world,” Murphy told reporters as he walked off the Senate floor, NBC reported.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who opposes gun control measures, told the world of the news from Uvalde. He said the 18-year-old shooter had been killed by police.

Officials say the elementary school included second through fourth grades, and several more students and teachers were injured. 

Republican lawmakers expressed horror at the shooting, but kept their focus on prayers for the victims and waiting to find out more details rather than any legislative response.

“Heidi & I are fervently lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde. We are in close contact with local officials, but the precise details are still unfolding. Thank you to heroic law enforcement & first responders for acting so swiftly,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted.

Cruz shut down the prospect of creating new gun laws, CNN reported. 

“Inevitably when there’s a murderer of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Cruz told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday. “We know what does prevent crime, which is going after felons and fugitives and those with serious mental illness.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said that he planned to travel to Uvalde as soon as possible. He expressed gratitude to law enforcement and medical staff working to prevent further deaths.

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), whose district includes Uvalde, called the massacre an act of “senseless violence.”

“It is devastating when our innocent children become the victims of senseless violence. We are devastated,” Gonzales tweeted. “While we monitor this situation, we remember that Uvalde, while rocked by today’s events, is strong and resilient. In this time of trepidation, our office is always here to do whatever we can to help. We are family and we will continue to be here for each other.”

A number of GOP figures are scheduled to speak at a National Rifle Association conference in Houston on Friday, including former President Trump, Cruz, Abbott and Cornyn.

Tags Buffalo school shooting Chris Murphy Fred Guttenberg Gun control gun violence Texas school shooting Veronica Escobar

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