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U.S. Senator Murphy implores lawmakers to act on guns after Texas school massacre

Sports & General May 24, 2022 07:25PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) speaks during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations to examine U.S.-Russia policy on Capitol Hill, Washington, U.S. December 7, 2021. Alex Brandon/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Murphy on Tuesday implored his colleagues to act to combat gun violence hours after a mass shooter killed 14 Texas school children, dismissing a common Republican argument by saying, "Spare me the bullshit about mental illness."

Murphy, who before his election to the Senate represented the Connecticut congressional district where a gunman killed 26 young children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, urged his colleagues to craft legislation to restrict the proliferation of guns.

"I just don't understand why people here think we're powerless," Murphy told reporters after a fiery floor speech. "There's just not a coincidence that we're the high-income-world's deadliest nation and we have the loosest gun laws. You know, guns flow in this country like water. And that's why we have mass shooting after mass shooting."

Previous efforts to pass new federal restrictions on guns failed following the Sandy Hook shooting, a 2017 attack on Republican members of Congress practicing baseball, and an attack just 10 days ago at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store.

Many Republican lawmakers, who typically oppose new restrictions on gun ownership, following past attacks have argued that the United States needs to do more to end mental illness, which can drive some shooters.

"Spare me the bullshit about mental illness," Murphy said, anticipating that response to Tuesday's massacre, which killed a teacher as well as 14 students. "We don't have any more mental illness than any other country in the world. You cannot explain this through a prism of mental illness because we're not an outlier on mental illness. ... We're an outlier when it comes to access to firearms and the ability of criminals and very sick people to get their arms on firearms. That's what makes America different."

The U.S. Supreme Court in the coming weeks is expected to rule on a case that could greatly expand the right to carry concealed handguns, in a challenge to a New York state law that opponents say violates the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Murphy said he would be happy to work on a bipartisan solution, saying a bill needed to "show progress" and not necessarily be a perfect legislative fix.

Republican Senator Thom Tillis said lawmakers needed to take a look at "reasonable measures" to curtail threats to communities.

"I'm happy to look at anything as long as it doesn't deny anybody rights for law-abiding citizens," he told reporters.

U.S. Senator Murphy implores lawmakers to act on guns after Texas school massacre
 

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