HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut’s lawmakers said they were heartbroken Tuesday at the news of a deadly Texas elementary school shooting that is hauntingly familiar to the elementary school massacre that took 26 lives in Newtown 10 years ago.
“We have another Sandy Hook on our hands,” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said on the Senate floor Tuesday evening, making an emotional plea to his congressional colleagues — one he’s repeated for years — to pass stricter gun laws.
“What are we doing? Why are we here?” the senator asked his colleagues, over and over, mere hours after an 18-year-old gunman killed at least 19 people in Uvalde, Texas.
“Our kids are living in fear every single time they step foot in the classroom because they think they’re going to be next,” said the senator.
Murphy asked his colleagues to consider why they ran for office if not to address issues like rampant mass shootings with legislation.
“As the slaughter increases, as our kids run for our lives, we do nothing,” he said .
Murphy then told a story of how educators at Sandy Hook Elementary handled classrooms filled with traumatized children. They would create safe words, he said, that students could say anytime they started thinking about what happened in their school on Dec. 14.
The safe words were words that children, as young as 6, would say when they inevitably “started to get nightmares during the day, reliving stepping over their classmates’ bodies as they tried to flee the school.”
In one classroom, he said, the word was “monkey.”
“Over and over and over through the day, kids would stand up and yell monkey,” he said.
Teachers and paraprofessionals, he said, would have to take them into the hall and talk to them about what they had seen.
And now, 10 years later, another elementary school has experienced the same terror. The same trauma. The same loss.
“My heart breaks as I re-live the shock and grief of Sandy Hook 10 years ago, knowing the infinite pain that will hit these families in Texas,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal in a statement Tuesday. “No words can capture my wrenching sadness for them and for our great nation that continues to be torn apart by horrendous gun violence – taking so many beautiful lives and spreading anguish and horror.”
He, too, called on his colleagues to take legislative action.
“This senseless violence will stop only when Congress matches thoughts and prayers with action.”
President Joe Biden’s press secretary, Karine Jeanne-Pierre, said on Twitter that the president has been briefed on the situation in Uvalde and has spoken to Texas Governor Greg Abbott to offer any assistance he may need.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, which independently collects nationwide shooting data, there have been 212 mass shootings, which it defines as four or more victims shot, either injured or killed in an incident, in 2022, only 4½ months into the year.
That’s more than one such shooting per day.
Connecticut legislators last week said they already felt like they were fighting a “phenomenon” of normalizing gun violence.
Earlier this month, 10 people were shot to death during a racist mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. Murphy and Blumenthal said following that shooting that they were still desperately fighting for the same common sense gun laws they’d been championing since the Sandy Hook shooting.
Blumenthal said last week that he was “sadder and angrier than ever” that, approaching an entire decade since Sandy Hook, the nation is still grappling with now “normalized” mass shootings and increasing rates of everyday gun violence.
Connecticut U.S. Rep. John Larson, a Democrat, also issued a statement on the shooting:
“My heart breaks for the students and families in Uvalde,” said Larson. “Nearly a decade ago, we lost 20 innocent children and six faculty members in a senseless act of gun violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School. That was nearly ten whole years ago. What have we done since then to prevent another mass shooting and to protect our children? Enough is enough.”
Larson criticized the Senate for its lack of action on what he called commonsense gun violence prevention measures passed by the House.
On Tuesday evening, Biden ordered United States flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the lives lost in Texas.
Gov. Ned Lamont today announced that – in accordance with the proclamation from Biden directing flags to be lowered throughout the country as a mark of solemn respect for the victims of the mass shooting Uvalde – he is directing U.S. and state flags in Connecticut to be flown at half-staff beginning immediately until sunset on Saturday.
“The news of another mass shooting, this time from Texas, is devastating. One life taken by gun violence is too many, but 15 innocent lives, including 14 children, is an utter tragedy,” Lamont said. “Nearly ten years after Sandy Hook, Connecticut knows this feeling all too well. Our collective hearts and prayers go out to the families in Uvalde trying to process the unimaginable.
“The 212 mass shootings that have occurred in the U.S. so far just in these first few months of 2022 is out of hand, and we cannot forget the true cost of these numbers – lives lost. They’re our friends, fathers, kids, teachers, and neighbors. They’re worth the effort to find a diligent, pragmatic, and hopefully bipartisan solution before we lose any more of them.”
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said she is “absolutely devastated to hear of yet another school shooting, where the most innocent of victims have lost their lives.
“I send my most sincere condolences to the children, families, friends, and all who have been affected by this unbelievable tragedy. Condolences are not enough. I strongly urge Congress to pass commonsense gun laws to keep our children safe, now,” she said, “There are no words to describe the callousness of this event, and to do nothing to address rampant gun violence is yet another avoidable tragedy.”
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