August 23, 2019

Responding to Last Weekend’s Mass Shootings, Sen. Murphy Authors Op-Ed in ‘The Hill’ Titled ‘The Violence Paradox’

US Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

WASHINGTON –- Following last weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), authored an op-ed in The Hill focusing on America’s unique legacy of violence and how Congressional inaction is a signal of endorsement to would-be shooters. Since his time in the Senate, Murphy has been a vocal critic of our nation’s gun laws and have proposed commonsense gun violence prevention legislation.

Excerpts from the op-ed are below and can be viewed here.

“It is a deeply uncomfortable fact that inside some humans lies the ability to rationalize the decision to walk into a Walmart or a crowded bar and start firing a wildly lethal weapon indiscriminately, with the goal of ending as many lives as possible.”

“But as these slaughters – from Newtown to Orlando to Las Vegas to El Paso and Dayton – continue unabated, we need to start asking questions about what within our own makeup explains this mass shooting epidemic, and what control society has over these outlier actions that seem, with each new mind-bending massacre, less like outliers. The answer is that violence is inside us, but so is the ability to end this epic-scale carnage.”

“First, we must face a foundational fact – humans are uniquely hardwired for violence.”

“Our rates of violence over the millennia have gone up and down, but long ago, humans figured out that violence was an effective means of social and economic advancement.”

“Here in America, our legacy of violence is even more pronounced than the rest of the world. Once Europeans landed on the continent, violence as a means of social order became standard order.”

“First, it was the settlers wiping out the local tribes, then it was slaveowners using massive scale violence to enslave African-Americans, and then ethnic groups turned on each other, using violence to contest economic and social space in America’s crowded cities.”

“Along the way, it was the guns that made it easy for the dominant groups to control the subordinate groups. One historian suggests that without the flood of weapons that came with America becoming the early home of the global arms industry, America would be 50 percent less murderous over our long history.”

“Here in America, we are nowhere near as violent as we were in our early years, in large part because of government intervention. It is not a coincidence that the two steepest periods of decline in the rate of murder in the United States occurred right after passage of the two most significant gun laws in our nation’s history – the first national firearms control acts in 1934 and 1938, and the background checks and assault weapons ban bills in 1993 and 1994.”

“The success of those two legislative efforts to significantly depress violence levels in the United States should give us hope as we grieve over these most recent American mass shootings.”

“Laws that keep weapons away from dangerous people, and keep uniquely dangerous weapons – like the AR-15 – away from everyone, work.”

Data shows that states with tougher gun laws have lower gun murder rates. At the federal level, during the 10 years of the assault weapons ban, America’s mass murder rate was almost half that of the following 10 years.”

“At the federal level, during the 10 years of the assault weapons ban, America’s mass murder rate was almost half that of the following 10 years.”

“As the minds of these mass shooters descend into a dark place, unimaginable to you and me, where they rationalize the decision to exorcise their personal trauma through mass violence, I believe they take note of the silence at the highest levels of their nation regarding the choice they are contemplating.”

“Yes, presidents and governors and senators send out statements condemning each mass shooting, and offer “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families. But these are empty words, and everybody knows it, especially after no actual policy changes are enacted as the mass shooting era continues to grip America.”

“The absence of any interest in passing laws to condemn mass shootings sends a signal of unintentional endorsement to would-be mass murderers.”

“When it comes to the instincts that lie inside humans, this weekend’s shootings represent one side of the coin. But on the other side is our ability to stop violence. It’s our choice which side lands face up.”

Read the full op-ed here.

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