No matter. Mr. Murphy’s effort to get a vote failed as one GOP senator squashed all consideration of the bill on behalf of Republicans.
“What kind of world is this?” was the question posed by one student who survived the early-morning shooting at Saugus High School. A 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were fatally wounded when, according to authorities, another student pulled a powerful handgun from his backpack and started firing — seemingly indiscriminately — before shooting himself in the head. The suspected shooter, whose 16th birthday was Thursday, died Friday.
As the investigation continues, there are many unanswered questions. What prompted a 16-year-old boy described by friends as a quiet, smart kid to go on a murderous rampage? Were there warning signs that were overlooked by authorities or his family? Where did he get the .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol used in the shooting? Some will argue that the bill blocked from Senate consideration — a measure passed in February with bipartisan support by the House to require universal background checks — might not have prevented Thursday’s carnage. True, there is no single or easy solution to the problem of gun violence, and not every tragedy will be averted and every life saved. And yes, there must be a variety of approaches, including those that deal with mental-health issues. But it is insupportable that Republicans in Congress and the White House refuse to acknowledge, or do anything about, the obvious problem that there are simply too many dangerous guns getting into the hands of too many of the wrong people.
Thursday’s shooting was the fifth mass shooting at a U.S. school or school event so far this year and, overall, there had been 369 mass shootings catalogued by the Gun Violence Archive in 2019 as of Sunday. After the summer’s back-to-back shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Trump vowed to take action but quickly backed down after the National Rifle Association applied pressure. Attorney General William P. Barr’s unveiling last week of an initiative to tackle gun violence by strengthening law enforcement partnerships in enforcing existing gun laws was recognition of the fact that the White House has no appetite for needed legislative fixes.
“My kids and millions’ others hide in corners of their classroom or in their bathrooms preparing for a mass shooting at their school, and this body does nothing about it,” said Mr. Murphy moments before news broke of the Santa Clarita school shooting. How many more will there be before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) decides it is time to stop sitting on his hands and do something about the problem?