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everytown for gun safety

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

Some of those things have been factors in some shootings, but the single common denominator in every mass shooting is guns. That's not a secret. It's not controversial. It's fact. The only thing all mass shootings have in common is guns.


Other countries have guns, but the United States has a lot more and it's not even close. The U.S. is the only country in the world that has more guns than people (a whopping 120 guns for every 100 people). The next highest country for gun ownership (the Falkland Islands) has half the per capita gun numbers we have.

Not only do we have far more guns than anywhere else, but we have relatively few federal laws regulating those guns. We have state laws, but they vary widely and that makes a difference—so much so that research shows some states are negatively impacted by neighboring states' lax gun laws.

(And yes, there is a correlation between gun death rates and gun laws—states with stricter laws have lower gun death rates and vice versa. These stats are easy to look up and they're also gathered in this article and in this article.)

However, I know from writing about this topic for years that facts and stats don't seem to matter. Nothing seems to matter—that was clear after first graders were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary and Congress did nothing. We see shooting after shooting and nothing changes.

It's exhausting and baffling, which is the energy Senator Chris Murphy brought to the Senate floor shortly after the news of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting broke. Murphy represented the district where the Sandy Hook shooting took place in 2012 and has advocated for Congress to take up gun legislation for years. In this speech to his Senate colleagues, he channeled the emotions of millions of Americans who are begging for lawmakers to do something.

The "code word" that the kids who survived Sandy Hook had to use to help them get through the memories and trauma of what they experienced is just too much.

"Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate? Why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job, of putting yourself in a position of authority if your answer is that, as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing? What are we doing? Why are you here, if not to solve a problem as existential as this?"

Murphy asked the questions so many of us want to scream at Congress after each mass shooting. The majority of Americans support commonsense gun legislation. Certain gun laws, such as universal background checks, have the support of 83% of Americans.

Murphy's plea to "find a path forward here" may be fruitless, but it's right. Congress needs to act. State laws are not effective when an issue affects the whole country and state borders are just imaginary lines on a map.

Lawmakers in Texas, which tops all states for gun ownership, recently relaxed the state's already loose gun laws to allow anyone 21 and older to carry a gun without a permit and without any training. Texas leadership has bragged about its gun culture and taken pride in "protecting the Second Amendment," despite there being nothing in that amendment that prohibits the regulation of firearms.

When some states want to live in the Wild West, with a firearm free-for-all and baseless claims that a "good guy with a gun" will solve our gun violence problem, we need sensible people to at least attempt to protect America from its worst instincts. It is entirely possible to have the right to gun ownership and also have sensible gun laws and anyone who says otherwise is full of it. We have plenty of examples of it in countries around the world, as well as in states within our own country.

What we can't continue to do is nothing, because it's obviously not working.

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No matter the outcome, these lawmakers will keep trying to 'disarm hate.'

Sen. Chris Murphy led the charge to try to put an end to gun violence.

On June 15, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut engaged in a marathon filibuster to press the issue of gun safety. His goal? To bring gun control measures to a vote.

By night's end, Murphy had won assurances from the Republican leadership that they'd allow his amendments to come up for a floor vote. While that doesn't seem like much, it's actually some pretty monumental progress when it comes to gun control — a true "third rail" issue if there is one in Washington.


Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) speaks to reporters on June 15, 2016, after a nearly 15-hour filibuster on the Senate floor in order to force a vote on gun control. Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images.

Supporters of Murphy's measures have been using social media to share a simple message in the wake of the June 12 shooting in Orlando: #DisarmHate.

The terrorist attack on LGBT clubgoers was carried out with a legally purchased assault-style rifle. The attacker, Omar Mateen, was at one point on the terrorist watch list. Though he was removed following an FBI investigation, he would have still been allowed to purchase the weapon that ended 49 lives even had he remained listed.

That's one of the legal loopholes Murphy and others want addressed; the other is the question of the "gun show loophole."


The hashtag #DisarmHate got a jump start when the group Everytown for Gun Safety launched a coordinated online push.

They, of course, had their own resources to share.



Celebrities, such as Britney Spears, Kristen Bell, and others, joined in.



And then there were the lawmakers who voiced their public support for the amendments.



While it's doubtful these amendments will make it through the legislative hurdles necessary to become law, it's important not to give up.

In addition to championing this vote, Sen. Murphy shared a list of seven things you can do to help put an end to gun violence.


And while the list is filled with suggestions like "call your Senators," "talk to your friends," and "get involved with a gun violence prevention group," it's the final point that's most important: Don't give up. Because while it's easy to become cynical about what seem like Sisyphean efforts to reduce gun violence, we can't change the world with apathy.

And, regardless of how the votes go, it doesn't mean we should give up hope for a better tomorrow.

Instead, those of us who don't want to see another Orlando will simply have to wake up and start fighting anew. Will we, as society, eventually fulfill the goal of disarming hate? One can hope.

Reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry has an adorable 3-year-old daughter named Riley.

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images.


He takes her everywhere he goes.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

She's even been known to take over a press conference or two.

GIF via Ziba Lubaj/YouTube.

Like any father, the thought of losing his daughter to a sudden, tragic act of violence is too terrible for Curry to contemplate.

With Riley in mind, Curry — and several of his NBA colleagues — made a video calling for an end to the unacceptable plague of gun deaths in America.

GIFs by Everytown for Gun Safety/YouTube.

The fear of losing a child to gun violence cuts across the generations.

Later in the video, the Clippers' Chris Paul talks about growing up with the fear of becoming a statistic.

The Knicks' Carmelo Anthony is even blunter.


While tragedies like San Bernardino and Sandy Hook grab the headlines — for good reason — this problem goes far beyond high-profile mass shootings.

In 2011, gun violence claimed the lives of over 30,000 Americans. A Bloomberg analysis estimates that more people will be killed by guns in 2015 than in car crashes.

Ending gun violence is often a controversial subject — but it doesn't have to be.

A makeshift memorial for the victims of the San Bernardino, California, mass shooting. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

Any discussion of placing new restrictions or conditions on gun ownership tends to devolve into a shouting match between well-meaning people on both sides. It tends to get very emotional, as issues of life and death often do.

The good news is, we all want the same thing: fewer people killed in shootings.

The better news is, we mostly agree on the first steps toward getting there. An overwhelming majority of Americans support background checks for gun purchases — including a majority of NRA members. A similarly vast majority is in favor of closing the gun-show loophole, which allows firearm sales by private dealers without background checks.

These are common-sense reforms we can all get behind.

Because regardless of where you stand on the issue, the Bulls' Joakim Noah hits the nail on the head.

Watch the NBA stars — as well as ordinary Americans whose lives have been upended by gun violence — get real about what it's going to take below.