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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn) joined U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal in speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate ahead of the three year anniversary of the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 first graders and six of their teachers were shot and killed. Murphy honored those who lost their lives, highlighted the strength and resolve of the Newtown community, and demanded congressional action to curb gun violence in the United States.  

Earlier today, Murphy and his colleagues stood with families from Newtown, Hartford, and from cities and towns across the country who traveled to Washington, DC, to demand that congressional Republicans take action to pass meaningful measures to reform our nation’s broken gun laws.

Excerpts of Senator Murphy’s remarks are below:

“…it's hard to describe for my colleagues here today the grief that still, frankly, drowns Sandy Hook parents and the community at large. It's total, it's permanent, and it's all-consuming.

“But for many of those parents and many of those community members, the grief now is mixed with a combination of anger and utter bewilderment – all of it directed at us, in the United States Senate and in the House of Representatives.

“On December 14, Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School armed with a weapon that was designed for the military – designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible. He had 30-round magazines not designed for hunting or for sport shooting, but to destroy as much life as quickly as possible.

“…In approximately four minutes, he discharged 154 rounds and he killed with ruthless efficiency. Twenty-seven people shot: 26 dead, including 20 first graders. Rachel Davino, 29. Dawn Hochsprung, 47. Anne Marie Murphy, 52. Lauren Rousseau, 30. Mary Sherlach, 56. Victoria Soto, 27. And the students: Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Matiolli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto – it keeps going. Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison Wyatt.

“…Whatever you think is the best way to stop this carnage – changing our gun laws, giving more resources to law enforcement, changing our mental health system to get more help to those who are becoming unhinged and thinking about settling their real or imagined grievances with violence – do something to honor those children and adults. Do something to show that there is an ounce of compassion as we sit here three years after the bloody massacre at Sandy Hook.

“…And so my plea today – three years after this tragedy that utterly transformed that community – is for us to recognize that there is no other country in the world that would live with this level of slaughter. There is no other nation in the world that would accept 80 people dying every day from preventable gun violence, and mass shooting after mass shooting, and not even try to fix it. That’s what’s so offensive to me. And three years later, that is what is so hard to understand for the families that we represent in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

“So if you don’t want to believe me, I’m going to close the exact same way that I closed two years ago, on the one-year anniversary. And I’m kind of ashamed that I have to read this letter again because every single word of it still applies, two years later, after the epidemic of mass shootings in this country hasn't abated, but simply grown. It's from a mom whose child survived. And I’ll close with it:

"In addition to the tragic loss of her playmates, friends and teachers, my first grader suffers from PTSD. She was in the first room by the entrance to the school. Her teacher was able to gather the children into a tiny bathroom inside the classroom. There she stood with 14 of her classmates and her teacher, all of them crying.

“You see, she heard what was happening on the other side of the wall. She heard everything. She was sure she was going to die that day. She didn't want to die for Christmas.

“Imagine what that must have been like. She struggles nightly with nightmares, difficulty falling asleep, and being afraid to go anywhere in her own home. At school, she becomes withdrawn – crying daily, covering her ears when it gets too loud, and waiting for this to happen again. She is six, and we are furious.

“Furious that 26 families must suffer with grief so deep and so wide that it's unimaginable. Furious that the innocence and safety of my children’s’ lives has been taken. Furious that someone had access to the type of weapon used in this massacre. Furious that gun makers make ammunition with such high rounds, and our government does nothing to stop them. Furious that the ban on assault weapons was carelessly left to expire. Furious that lawmakers let the gun lobbyists have so much control. Furious that somehow someone's right to own a gun is more important than my child's right to life. Furious that lawmakers are too scared to take a stand.

“I ask you to think about your choices. Look at the pictures of the 26 innocent lives taken so needlessly and wastefully, using a weapon that never should have been in the hands of civilians. Really think. Changing the laws may inconvenience some gun owners, but it may also save a life – perhaps a life that is dear to me or you.

“Are you really willing to risk it? You have a responsibility and an obligation to act now and change the laws. I hope and I pray that you do not fail."

“I yield the floor.”