A visibly enraged Chuck Schumer denounced his colleagues across the aisle over their opposition to stricter gun control
A visibly shaken Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer denounced gun violence as a ‘plague upon this nation’ on Wednesday after a gunman killed at least 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Texas.
The New York Democrat furiously tore into Republicans’ enduring opposition to stricter gun control legislation, begging them to view the tragedy through the eyes of dozens of grieving parents and loved ones.
He questioned how the slaughter of 20 young children and six children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut a decade earlier did not make Republicans ‘look at their conscience.’
‘The leading cause of death among children is no longer a car accident, is no longer illness or malnourishment. The leading cause of death among children is a firearm. The leading cause of death of children – you hear that, my Republican colleagues – is a firearm,’ the impassioned lawmaker said on the Senate floor.
He implored: ‘Please, please, damn it – put yourselves in the shoes of these parents for once.’
‘Maybe that thought, putting yourself in the shoes of these parents instead of in the arms of the NRA, might let you wriggle free from the vice-like grip of the NRA.’
The National Rifle Association has so far been silent on the shooting. The vast lobbying giant has led efforts to quash gun control legislation throughout the country for decades.
Schumer noted that the shooting happened just a few short weeks before school lets out for the summer, ‘when these kids were looking forward to having such a wonderful time with their family and friends.’
‘Gone. They’re gone,’ he said.
‘America’s gun epidemic is unmatched by any of our peer nations in the world. No American is saved from it. And the American people are sick and tired of it. But we also have a problem – a big problem – here in the United States Senate.’
A gunman killed at least 19 students and two teachers when he opened fire in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday
Schumer said of the shooting Wednesday: ‘Too many members on the other side of the aisle are disconnected from the suffering of the American people’
That problem was ‘simple,’ Schumer said. Without explicitly labeling them, the Democrat pointed out the influence firearm lobbyists had on elected Republicans.
‘Too many members on the other side of the aisle are disconnected from the suffering of the American people. Too many members on that side care more about the NRA than they do about families who grieve victims of gun violence,’ Schumer claimed.
‘The American people are sick and tired of mass shootings.’
He brought up past years when lawmakers could work together on bipartisan gun control such as the 1993 Brady bill, which among other measures imposed federal background checks on firearm purchases.
‘Because they became law, tens of thousands -hundreds of thousands, perhaps – lives were saved. Children, elderly people, people of color – you name it. People now walking the streets who might have been dead had we not passed these laws,’ Schumer said.
‘But today, the NRA has made it all but impossible for even the bare minimum to move forward in Congress. And the other side is all too ready to bow in obeisance to the NRA in service of their whims.’
The New York lawmaker lamented that such national tragedies used to be ‘rare’ and ‘singular events.’
‘Honestly, I thought Sandy Hook 10 years ago would be the breaking point. I thought that that would be the tragedy that forced Republicans to examine their conscience and think “Oh God, we can’t allow school children to be slaughtered.” Well I was wrong,’ Schumer said.
He said he hoped the murder of 20 young children and six school staff at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut in 2012 would have been a turning point
‘We heard about their thoughts and their prayers, but no action.’
He continued, ‘Indeed, we hear from Republicans – all we hear from Republicans – are thoughts, prayers, and now there’s a new phrase. Now some of my Republican colleagues want to “Lift up the community.” That sounds heartening, but it does absolutely nothing.’
‘Nothing to prevent the next family from having to grieve for their loss, and it won’t do a single damn thing to prevent another life from being taken,’ Schumer said.
Across the aisle, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered prayers for the Texas families grieving their losses – in a similar fashion to what Schumer had just described – but pointedly left out the issue of firearms or reform.
‘Our country is sickened and outraged by the senseless evil that struck Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas yesterday,’ The Kentucky Republican said.
‘According to early reports from authorities, it appears that a deranged young man tried to murder his own grandmother, then crashed his car, and then ran into an elementary school and began killing. At least 19 young children and two teachers were murdered for no apparent reason at all.’
He denounced the 18-year-old shooter as a ‘maniac’ and thanked the law enforcement officials who responded to the scene.
‘It is literally sickening to consider the innocent young lives that were stolen by this pointless, senseless brutality,’ McConnell said.
‘To consider the parents and families who sat waiting at the Civic Center — waiting to either be reunited with their son or daughter, or to learn they never would be.’
Other Republicans, like Texas Senator Ted Cruz and the state Attorney General Ken Paxton, have called for teachers and other school staff to be armed in the wake of the shooting.
President Joe Biden tore into the massive gun lobby in a brief but powerful speech on Tuesday night, barely hours after stepping off of a 17-hour flight from Japan.
‘Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone?’ the president questioned.
He then called on supporters of tighter gun laws to mobilize in the wake of Tuesday’s shooting, while warning opponents of firearm reform: ‘For those who obstruct or delay or block the common sense gun laws, we need to let you know that we will not forget.’