Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) has been a leading voice for gun control after just about every recent mass shooting, ever since it was his state that was struck in 2012 by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown.
But Murphy's response to the latest tragedy — in Sutherland Springs, Tex. — is a little different even for him. It is a dark and ominous statement that at times feels somewhat resigned but also makes a point of arguing that we shouldn't be resigned. In that way, it's somewhat similar to how President Barack Obama spoke about mass shootings late in his term. Murphy, though, takes it even further, painting a vivid and stark picture of the “paralysis” we have faced after mass shootings and talking about “the blood that flows endlessly onto the floors” of the scenes of such attacks. And for all of it, he blames lawmakers who have sold out to the NRA.
Below is his full, four-paragraph statement, with some analysis interspersed:
The paralysis you feel right now — the impotent helplessness that washes over you as news of another mass slaughter scrolls across the television screen — isn’t real. It's a fiction created and methodically cultivated by the gun lobby, designed to assure that no laws are passed to make America safer, because those laws would cut into their profits. My heart sunk to the pit of my stomach, once again, when I heard of today's shooting in Texas. My heart dropped further when I thought about the growing macabre club of families in Las Vegas and Orlando and Charleston and Newtown, who have to relive their own day of horror every time another mass killing occurs.
None of this is inevitable. I know this because no other country endures this pace of mass carnage like America. It is uniquely and tragically American. As long as our nation chooses to flood the county with dangerous weapons and consciously let those weapons fall into the hands of dangerous people, these killings will not abate.
“These killings will not abate” and the “paralysis” lines both hark back to how Obama talked. After multiple failed efforts to persuade Congress to act on gun control, he and his White House admitted that the will simply wasn't there.
After a 2015 shooting in Oregon, White House press secretary Joshua Earnest said the president was “quite realistic that we'll need to see a fundamental change in terms of the way the American people communicate this priority to Congress before we'll see a different outcome in the legislative process.”
Months earlier, after the mass shooting at a historically black church in South Carolina, Obama said: “At some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.”
As my colleagues go to sleep tonight, they need to think about whether the political support of the gun industry is worth the blood that flows endlessly onto the floors of American churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, and city streets. Ask yourself: How can you claim that you respect human life while choosing fealty to weapons-makers over support for measures favored by the vast majority of your constituents.
Here, Murphy pins the “blood that flows endlessly onto the floors” directly on lawmakers who have opposed gun control. He suggests that those who claim to be “pro-life” aren't following through on it on this particular issue.
My heart breaks for Sutherland Springs. Just like it still does for Las Vegas. And Orlando. And Charleston. And Aurora. And Blacksburg. And Newtown. Just like it does every night for Chicago. And New Orleans. And Baltimore. And Bridgeport. The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic. The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something.
The inclusion of Chicago here is noteworthy. Republicans have long held up the carnage in the Windy City as proof of Democrats' selective outrage on gun violence, given the strict gun-control laws that exist there. Here, Murphy suggests it's part of the epidemic of mass shootings — even as the shootings don't claim as many victims all at once.
Murphy also calls for his colleagues to shed their “cowardly cover and do something.” It's worth noting that it has been weeks since Las Vegas, after which there seemed to be bipartisan agreement — including from the NRA — about regulating bump stocks, which basically serve to turn a semiautomatic weapon into a fully automatic one. And the bill was only recently introduced.
Texas would seem less conducive to immediate gun-control legislation. The shooter, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), had been denied a gun permit, for example, which suggests that this wasn't a matter of a lack of background checks. The shooter was also stopped by an armed civilian — a fact gun-rights supporters will emphasize. The NRA often argues that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
In other words, it seems unlikely that Murphy's plea and this particular incident will change much of anything. But Murphy also seems to know that.