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'It's a matter of life and death' | Connecticut lawmakers demand action on gun control after Texas elementary school shooting

An 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two adults as he went from classroom to classroom at a Texas elementary school, officials said.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut's state and congressional leaders demanded action on gun control less than a day after the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that killed at least 19 students and two adults.

"Here we are again, standing together to demand action after another mass shooting," Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said during the news conference Wednesday morning. "What the hell is going to stop this?"

Bysiewicz and others, including Gov. Ned Lamont, Rep. Jahana Hayes, and Rep. John Larson, made a plea to Congress to follow Connecticut's lead and pass common-sense gun laws.

"Just do your job. It's a matter of life and death," the lieutenant governor said.

RELATED: Police presence increased at Connecticut school districts out of an abundance of caution after Texas shooting

Officials said Wednesday that all the victims were in the same fourth-grade classroom. Authorities said the gunman barricaded himself in the Uvalde, Texas classroom of Robb Elementary School and "began shooting anyone in his way." Law enforcement officers eventually broke into the classroom and killed the gunman.

Officials did not immediately reveal a motive, but they identified the assailant as Salvador Ramos, a resident of the community about 85 miles west of San Antonio. Law enforcement officials said he acted alone.

"We are not asking for anything complicated here," Larson said during Wednesday's news conference. 

He called on the Senate to end the filibuster and to take up more bills initially passed in the House.

"This year alone, 145 days have passed, over 200 mass shootings across the country, this is epidemic!" Larson added. "And when you add in the fact of what's going on with gun violence in general, and for the United States Senate to not have voted in over a decade, that is a disgrace!"

Credit: AP
The archbishop of San Antonio, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, comforts families outside the Civic Center following a deadly school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

The shooting has reminded many in Connecticut of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that killed 26 people. 

"They're somewhat uniquely American, which is tragic," Lamont said. "If you're not serious about guns, you're not serious about crime prevention."

Lamont has been efforting a crackdown on guns, even proposing a gun violence reduction plan during the last legislative session, "doing everything we can to head off what we can of what could be dangerous behavior." That also includes making big investments in mental health.

After Sandy Hook, the state passed background checks and limited magazine sizes, among many things, with bipartisan support.

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During the Malloy administration, many weapons were banned as assault weapons in Connecticut, including the AR-15.

"But it doesn't work if we're doing this on our own. We can make a difference, but we need the federal government to look up and see what's working in Connecticut and what can work in elsewhere," Lamont said.

Hayes and Larson, who are both Democrats, said they believe Republicans are avoiding gun legislation conversations.

"Any conversation about gun ownership, responsible gun ownership is received as an attack on the second amendment rights and that's not what it is," Hayes said.

Republican State Senator Kevin Kelly said Democrats are making this too political. Instead, he said the focus needs to be on the issue itself.

"To blame it on one side or the other, I think it's just buying into and is part of that Washington dysfunction," he said. "What we need to do when we're confronted with problems is focus on the issue."

Larson said it's not going to be representatives that make change happen, it's going to be the people who elect them.

Tuesday's assault at Robb Elementary School in the heavily Latino town of Uvalde was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown in December 2012.

The attack was the latest grim moment for a country scarred by a string of massacres, coming just 10 days after a deadly, racist rampage at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket. And the prospects for any reform of the nation’s gun regulations seemed as dim, if not dimmer, than in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook deaths.

Credit: AP
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

RELATED: President Biden says 'we have to act' after Texas school shooting

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy took the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon following the news of the deadly shooting.

"What are we doing? Just days after a shooter walked into a grocery store to gun down African American patrons, we have another Sandy Hook on our hands," said Murphy.

For years now, Murphy has been at the forefront in the U.S. Senate when it comes to calling for action and proposing federal gun control legislation.

RELATED: 'What are we doing?': Connecticut's leaders call for action after deadly shooting tragedy at Texas elementary school

"I am on this floor to beg, literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues -- find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws to make this less likely," Murphy said.

"Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?" Murphy asked his colleagues.

President Joe Biden appeared ready for a fight, calling for new gun restrictions in an address to the nation hours after the attack.

“As a nation we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name are we going to do what has to be done?” Biden asked. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?"

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