Murphy: We need to pass gun control to "show we care"

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy says he’s willing to “bend over backwards” to find a compromise on gun control after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, but his motivation appears far less about effective policies and much more about political posturing.

Murphy took to the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, not long after news broke about the shooting at Robb Elementary School to “beg [his’ colleagues” to move forward on gun control… specifically calling for “laws that make this less likely.”

Speaking to reporters afterwards, however, Murphy expressed a different motivation for seeking consensus on his background check proposal.

“I just don’t understand why people here think we’re powerless,” Murphy told reporters. “We aren’t.”

Murphy said he is “so willing to bend over backwards to find compromise” on the legislation. “I want to show these want to show this country that that we care.”

He wants to “show we care” by passing a bill that wouldn’t have prevented this attack even it had been law.

Isn’t that basically the legislative equivalent of the “thoughts and prayers” that he and his fellow Democrats routinely deride?

As someone who’s still mourning the loss of one of my own children, I’d humbly disagree that “thoughts and prayers” don’t have an impact on those who are grieving and in pain, but I will stipulate that they don’t do anything to prevent active assailant attacks or violent crime.

On the other hand, neither do universal background check laws, and I’ve yet to see any gun control advocate acknowledge that in states like Washington, Colorado, and New Mexico (which have all imposed universal background check laws in the past decade), violent crime has only increased. Moreover, these laws are rarely used by prosecutors, who generally have much more serious charges to pursue when they come across someone who transferred a firearm without first putting the recipient through a background check.

If Chris Murphy wants to “show he cares”, there are much better ways of doing that than wasting time and energy on a gun control bill that isn’t likely to survive a vote in the Senate and would be completely ineffective at stopping mass shootings if, by some chance, it actually was signed into law.

Instead of seeking “compromise,” which in Murphy’s mind means Republicans acquiescing to some form of gun control, why doesn’t he instead try to collaborate with his GOP colleagues on legislation that would address other factors that we know play a role in the vast majority of these types of shootings? Improving access to mental health care would be my starting point, but there are plenty of other areas where Murphy might be able to get to 60 votes; increasing school security, providing grants to hire school resource officers, or even more esoteric ideas like adopting a community violence intervention approach to the online communities where many of these killers spend much of their time.

There’s nothing preventing Murphy from finding common ground across our political divide other than his insistence that any legislative efforts must be centered around criminalizing common aspects of the right to keep and bear arms. Chris Murphy is indeed showing us that he cares. It’s just too bad he seems to care a lot more about scoring political points than reaching for a consensus on public safety that doesn’t target our civil rights.