Democratic lawmakers spoke at a rally with young anti-gun violence activists, urging fellow Republicans in Congress to pass gun safety legislation.
“To the United States Senate: Don’t look the other way,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said during a Monday rally in front of the Capitolorganized by Students Demand Action.
“To the Republicans, let me be very frank: we are at a moment where we are silent or we are silent. We need to act,” the lawmaker added, noting that he and fellow Connecticut Democrat, Sen. Chris Murphy, negotiated in Congress to try to pass bipartisan gun safety measures.
The rally and renewed efforts by lawmakers to pass anti-gun violence legislation follow the deadly shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, which killed 21 people, including 19 children, ages 10 and 11. This shooting only took place 10 days after a a white supremacist shot dead 10 black people in a supermarket to Buffalo. And over the weekend, at least three people were killed and 11 injured in a filming in Philadelphia.
It’s been a decade since a gunman killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown – in Murphy and Blumenthal’s home state of Connecticut.
With a few dozen high school and college students wearing body armor in the background as he spoke, Murphy told the crowd, “This country cannot look away as our schools and our neighborhoods become killing fields.”
“You have to wonder if you’re going to come home from school safely,” Murphy said, adding that he has young sons. “No other child in the world has to think about that when they enter their school other than in this country.”
Murphy, who is leading the gun control talks in the Senate, said Democrats are in “very real talks” with Republicans to “try to craft a bill that will make a difference.”
Measures advocated by Democratic lawmakers would expand background checks and help states pass red flag laws and invest in local initiatives against gun violence.
On Sunday, Murphy said he “never participated in negotiations as serious as these” on changing U.S. gun laws, but noted he was unsure they would be able to garner enough Republican support to get the 60 votes needed to raise the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic rifle at 21.
Sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.) said at the rally Monday that it has been “too many years since this crisis has been on Washington’s agenda.”
“We are a nation that believes in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he added. “You can’t have freedom when you fear your synagogue, your church, your mosque, or your grocery store will become a battleground.”
Ade Osadolor, a student who identified as Afro-Latin, told the rally that she was deeply affected by recent shootings in Uvalde, a predominantly Latin community, and Buffalo, which targeted black people.
“Our generation must live with the trauma of gun violence,” said the young woman. “We shouldn’t have to worry if we’ll make it out of school alive every day.”