A US Senator has pleaded with his colleagues in Congress to take action on gun laws in the wake of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which has killed at least 14 children and one teacher.
“Our heart is breaking for these families. Every ounce of love and thoughts and prayers we can send, we are sending,” Democrat Chris Murphy, who came to Congress representing the Sandy Hook district, said from the Senate floor.
“But I’m here on this floor to beg to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues. Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely,” he said.
“What are we doing? Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate…if your answer, is as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives—we do nothing?”
Mr Murphy urged politicians to do what they failed to do in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, where 20 children and six teachers were killed.
“I understand my Republican colleagues will not agree to everything that I may support, but there is a common denominator that we can find,” he said.
“Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate ― why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job, of putting yourself in a position of authority ― if your answer as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives ― we do nothing?” Mr Murphy said.
“What are we doing? Why are you here, if not to solve a problem as existential as this?”
The tragedy in Texas is the deadliest shooting at a US grade school since the 2012 mass shooting in Connecticut, where 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot his way into the locked building and then killed children and teachers with an AR-15-type rifle legally purchased by his mother. He then killed himself as police arrived. Before going to the school, Lanza fatally shot his mother at their Newtown home.
Advocacy groups formed in the wake of the Connecticut shooting expressed dismay at the news of shooting the Robb Elementary School.
“We are devastated by yet another heart wrenching school shooting incident in America,” said Po Murray, chair of the Newtown Action Alliance, in a written statement.
“For the past decade, we have warned all Americans, including elected politicians across the nation, that if a mass shooting can happen in Sandy Hook then it can happen anywhere. We have begged presidents, all members of Congress, governors and state representatives to strengthen the federal and state gun laws to keep our families and our communities safe.”
The gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde with a handgun and possibly a rifle, state governor Greg Abbott said.
Officials have not revealed a motive for the shooting, but said the gunman was a resident of the community, which is about 85 miles west of San Antonio.
Mr Abbott said the gunman was likely to have been killed by responding officers but that the events were still being investigated.
“He shot and killed, horrifically, incomprehensibly, 14 students and killed a teacher,” said the governor, adding that two officers were shot and wounded but were expected to survive.
The tragedy in Uvalde added to a grim tally of mass shootings in Texas that have been among the deadliest in the US over the past five years.
One year before the Santa Fe school shooting in 2018, a gunman at a Texas church killed more than two dozen people during a Sunday service in the small town of Sutherland Springs.
In 2019, another gunman at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a racist attack.
The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual convention was set to begin in Houston.
Mr Abbott and both of Texas’s US senators were among elected Republican officials who were the scheduled speakers at a Friday leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.