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“Newtown” screening sparks gun control discussion

Sen. Chris Murphy shared experience after Sandy Hook shooting

“Newtown” screening sparks gun control discussion

Standing before a room full of students, faculty and community members on Jan. 31, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut recounted the memory of learning that there had been a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. He said the event impacted his personal outlook and political focus.

“My whole life changed,” Murphy said. “It’s not that I hadn’t been psychologically or emotionally connected to the issues I had worked on before, but this was different, right? It was different, in part, because of those families.”

Murphy said he became passionate about the issue of gun control after the attack that took place in the Connecticut elementary school.

“I’m embarrassed to tell you I didn’t work on this issue of gun violence very much before Sandy Hook,” Murphy said.

AU College Democrats partnered with the Kennedy Political Union and the School of Communications to host Murphy, who introduced the screening of the documentary “Newtown.” The documentary, which was directed by Kim Snyder and originally premiered in January 2016, chronicles the aftermath of the December 2012 attack.

He went on to explain that the shooting was the result of larger, ongoing issues in the United States. Murphy attributed the actions of Adam Lanza, the gunman, to the failures of the mental health system, social system and most prominently, the nation’s gun laws.

Lanza used an AR-15 to commit the shooting.

“That type of weapon has a power to it, a velocity to it that’s different than other weapons,” Murphy said. “And a lot of those parents believe, and I agree with them, that there would be more kids alive today if assault weapons were not legal and 30-round magazines were not legal.”

Murphy also mentioned gun violence that occurs in cities and underprivileged areas all across the nation is a, “daily occurrence.” He referenced places such as Chicago, Baltimore, Hartford and New Orleans, all of which experience the loss of young lives to gun violence on a regular basis. In 2015, Hartford’s homicide rate climbed to the highest in New England; many of these deaths were due to gun violence.

Murphy said he recognizes that gun violence is an issue that the United States faces more than many other nations, and said it is a problem that only Congress can fix.

“We need to come to grips with what is different about this country and we need to recognize that the only place this is controversial is in the United States Congress,” he said.

Murphy concluded by answering questions from the audience. He shared that he has seen progress when it come to legislation and he told students that in order to see change made they should be engaging with their representatives and mobilizing their peers to make their voices heard.

“It is never, ever too early to stand up and fight for change,” Murphy said. “This is one of those moments, whether it’s gun control or the next outrage to come, this is the moment you are going to look back on 40 years from now in which you’re going to look back and say, ‘What did I do?’”

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