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May 25, 2022, 7:15 a.m. EDT

Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting spurs Sen. Chris Murphy to ask lawmakers: ‘What are we doing? Why are we here?’

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By Nicole Lyn Pesce

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This isn’t inevitable.  These kids weren’t unlucky. This only happens in this country, and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day. Nowhere else do parents have to talk to their kids, as I have had to do, about why they got locked into a bathroom and told to be quiet for five minutes just in case a bad man entered that building. Nowhere else does that happen but here in the United States of America. And it is a choice, it is our choice to let it continue 

What are we doing? 

In Sandy Hook Elementary School, after those kids came back into those classrooms, they had to adopt a practice in which there would be a safe word that the kids would say if they started to get thoughts in their brain about what they saw that day. If they started to get nightmares during the day, reliving stepping over their classmates bodies as they tried to flee the school. In one classroom that word was “monkey.” And over and over and over throughout the day, kids would stand up and yell “Monkey!” And a teacher or paraprofessional would have to go over to the kid, take them out of the classroom talk to them about what they had seen, work them through their issues.  

Sandy Hook will never, ever be the same. This community in Texas will never, ever be the same. 

Why, why are we here, if not to try to make sure that fewer schools, fewer communities, will have to go through what Sandy Hook has gone through, what Uvalde is going through? Our heart is breaking for these families. Every ounce of love and thoughts and prayers we can send, we are sending. 

But I’m here on this floor to beg, to literally get down on my hands and knees to beg my colleagues, find a path forward here.  Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely. 

I understand my Republican colleagues will not agree to everything I may suggest, but there is a common denominator that we can find.  There is a place where we can achieve agreement.  That may not guarantee that America never again sees a mass shooting, that may not overnight cut in half the number of murders that happen in America. That will not solve the problem of American violence by itself. But by doing something, we at least stop sending this quiet message of endorsement to these killers whose brains are breaking, who see the highest levels of government doing nothing shooting after shooting.

What are we doing? 

Why are we here?

What are we doing? 

I yield the floor.

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