Sunday's shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, left more than two dozen people dead and 20 more injured. Amidst the anguish, sadness, anger, and policy debates, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy pushed for gun control after Sutherland Springs in a powerfully worded statement that drew a lot of attention and impassioned replies on Twitter.
The Sutherland Springs shooting resulted in a cycle of debate that's probably familiar to even casual followers of the news: many people offering hope and prayers to the victims, many progressives calling for stronger gun laws, the right accusing the left of trying to take their guns away, and the left accusing the right of being indifferent to the bloodshed due to their political alliance with the gun lobby. And so on.
Murphy is a Democrat who emerged as one of the leading proponents of stronger gun laws after the Newtown massacre, which took place in his state. Although his statement included many of the same arguments that Democrats and progressives have been making for years about gun control, he also gave voice to one phenomenon that's rarely mentioned: a nation that, thanks to the alarming frequency with which mass shootings occur, is positively demoralized and cynical about the prospect for any positive change.
"The paralysis you feel right now — the impotent helplessness that washes over you as news of another mass slaughter scrolls across the television screen — isn't real," Murphy wrote. "It's a fiction created and methodically cultivated by the gun lobby, designed to assure that no laws are passed to make America safer, because those laws would cut into their profits."
As you might expect, Murphy's words drew a variety of impassioned responses. Here are some of the most notable of them.
Over 300 Mass Shootings
In fact, there have been 378 mass shootings in 2017 alone, according to the crowdsourced Mass Shooting Tracker. That's more than one mass shooting per day.
Hopes, Prayers & Laws
Supporters of gun rights — and specifically, Republican legislators — are often derided on the left for offering "thoughts and prayers," but nothing of any actual substance, in the wake of mass shootings. But as one user pointed out, there's nothing wrong with hopes and prayers if they're accompanied by other tangible steps to reduce gun violence.
Some users accused gun rights' proponents of deifying guns.
In his statement, the Connecticut senator asked his Republican colleagues how they could claim to be "pro-life" while also opposing gun laws in a country that experiences mass shootings daily. One user implored elected Republicans to actually answer that question.
Stop Politicizing It
Many on the right said that Murphy shouldn't be "politicizing" a tragedy like this, while some appeared to believe that news organizations, by merely publishing Murphy's statement, were themselves attempting to "take away" Americans' guns.
Although it's important to stay appraised of the news, it's just as easy to overexpose yourself to it. That's triply true in the age of social media, and often, amidst all of the arguments and outrage, it can be necessary to take a break and take care of yourself. There's nothing wrong with unplugging from the news for a bit to ensure your own emotional well-being.
A President Like This
The actual POTUS did not call for any new gun laws after the Sutherland Springs shooting, but said on Twitter that he was "monitoring the situation from Japan" and asserted that Americans will "lock arms and through the tears and the sadness" of the Sutherland Springs shooting.
Murphy For President?
After reading Murphy's statement, a good number of Twitter users found themselves wanting him in the White House. Murphy is indeed often mentioned as a potential challenger to Trump in 2020.
Canada, By Comparison
Many users pointed out that the level of gun violence in America is a worldwide anomaly, even when you control for population differences, suicides and gun laws themselves.
Murphy's words struck a chord with a lot of folks, even those with diametrically opposed opinions on gun laws. Whether they'll result in any actual policy changes is another question entirely.