By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams
Progressives in Congress responded to a deadly mass shooting at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday with demands for swift action to reduce gun violence.
The massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde left at least 19 children, two adults, and the gunman dead—and came just 10 days after a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo sparked similar calls for congressional action.
“I am horrified by news of another mass shooting and my heart breaks for the families of the young children and teacher killed in Uvalde. Congress has a moral responsibility to end gun violence now. To those who refuse to act, there are no excuses. Only complicity and shame,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
“Abolish the filibuster and pass gun safety legislation now,” added Markey. The filibuster has been the biggest barrier to getting bills through the evenly split Senate without GOP support, but a few right-wing Democrats have joined with Republicans to defend it, even when faced with crises and tragedies.
Referencing the initial death toll, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted: “Fourteen little kids, dead. When are we going to wake up as a country? Abolish the filibuster. Pass gun safety legislation, now. This needs to stop. We can never allow this to happen again.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) also took aim at the filibuster:
Meanwhile, in the chamber, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)—who was in the House for the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting—pleaded with lawmakers to act.
“I am here on this floor to beg, to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues: Find a path forward here,” Murphy said. “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 that I may support but there is a common denominator that we can find,” he continued. “There is a place where we can achieve agreement—that may not guarantee that America never, ever again sees a mass shooting… 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.”
Others called out right-wing lawmakers who have stood in the way of federal gun safety legislation.
“The only adjectives left to describe yet another school shooting are ‘sick’ and ‘tired’ of conservative extremists blocking common-sense steps to reduce the risk of these atrocities ripping away the lives of children and leaving their families to grieve their devastating losses,” said Sen. Ron. Wyden (D-Ore.).
Congresswoman Marie Newman (D-Ill.) fumed that “I simply don’t have words for this horror. I’m furious we live in a nation that values ‘freedom’ over innocent Americans—including children—being gunned down and murdered. When will the Republican Party stop holding our nation hostage and let us pass gun safety legislation[?]”
“How the hell can any @GOP member look at this and still believe there is nothing Congress can do to end these school shootings?” she tweeted. “I’m praying for the victims and families but that is not nearly enough—we need real action RIGHT NOW.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) shared MSNBC executive producer Kyle Griffin’s tweet noting that GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and former President Donald Trump are scheduled to speak at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association (NRA) that is set to kick off Friday in Houston, which “is only a few hundred miles away from Uvalde.”
In a swipe at lawmakers who attack reproductive rights, Ocasio-Cortez charged that “there is no such thing as being ‘pro-life’ while supporting laws that let children be shot in their schools, elders in grocery stores, worshippers in their houses of faith, survivors by abusers, or anyone in a crowded place. It is an idolatry of violence. And it must end.”
Some progressive lawmakers drew on their own experiences as parents and argued that kids nationwide deserve better. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted that “as a parent of an elementary school student, the pain and anger is unbearable. Pass gun safety legislation now.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) similarly said that “as a mom, I cannot fully express how devastating it is to hear that 14 kids and their teacher were murdered in their classroom. How many more people have to die before our country takes on gun violence?”
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) declared: “Our communities deserve better. Our children deserve better.”
Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) agreed, calling it “infuriating and shameful that with each passing day we lose more kids to senseless acts of gun violence like this,” and asserting that “this isn’t the America our children deserve.”
Impassioned calls for action also came from outside of Congress. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said that “only in America do people go grocery shopping and get mowed down by a shooter with hate in his heart; only in this country are parents not assured that their kids will be safe at school.”
“Gun violence is a cancer, and it’s one that none of us should tolerate for one single moment longer,” she added. “We have made a choice to let this continue, and we can make a choice to finally do something—do anything—to put a stop to this madness.”
Amnesty International USA’s campaign manager for ending gun violence, Ernest Coverson, declared that “thoughts and prayers are not enough. Cliches about lives being changed forever are not enough. We are disgusted and we are outraged.”
“While details are still to be confirmed, this latest tragedy again underscores how U.S. government officials have allowed gun violence to become a human rights crisis,” Coverson continued. It is unacceptable and must end.”
“We reiterate our long-standing demand for comprehensive, common-sense, human rights-based gun safety reform at the state, local, and federal levels, without further excuses or delay,” he said. “We stand with victims’ families and survivors, and join our partners in the gun violence prevention community in demanding action.”