Senator Chris Murphy makes an impassioned appeal for concrete action to prevent mass shootings, saying, "we're high-income world's deadliest nation and we have loosest gun laws."

"Spare me the bullshit about mental illness," Murphy says, dismissing a common Republican argument. (Reuters file)

Democratic US Senator Chris Murphy has implored his colleagues to act to combat gun violence hours after a mass shooter killed 18 Texas school children, dismissing a common Republican argument by saying, "Spare me the bullshit about mental illness."

"I'm here on this floor to beg — to literally get down on my hands and knees — to beg my colleagues. Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely,” he said on Tuesday.

"I just don't understand why people here think we're powerless," Murphy later told reporters after a fiery floor speech on Tuesday.

"There's just not a coincidence that we're the high-income-world's deadliest nation and we have the loosest gun laws. You know, guns flow in this country like water. And that's why we have mass shooting after mass shooting."

Previous efforts to pass new federal restrictions on guns failed following the Sandy Hook shooting, a 2017 attack on Republican members of Congress practicing baseball, and an attack just 10 days ago at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store.

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Mental illness 

Many Republican lawmakers, who typically oppose new restrictions on gun ownership, following past attacks have argued that the United States needs to do more to end mental illness, which can drive some shooters.

"Spare me the bullshit about mental illness," Murphy said, anticipating that response to Tuesday's massacre, which killed a teacher as well as 18 students. 

"We don't have any more mental illness than any other country in the world. You cannot explain this through a prism of mental illness because we're not an outlier on mental illness. ... We're an outlier when it comes to access to firearms and the ability of criminals and very sick people to get their arms on firearms. That's what makes America different."

Murphy, who before his election to the Senate represented the Connecticut congressional district where a gunman killed 26 young children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, urged his colleagues to craft legislation to restrict the proliferation of guns.

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Supreme Court ruling

The US Supreme Court in the coming weeks is expected to rule on a case that could greatly expand the right to carry concealed handguns, in a challenge to a New York state law that opponents say violates the US Constitution's Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Murphy said he would be happy to work on a bipartisan solution, saying a bill needed to "show progress" and not necessarily be a perfect legislative fix.

Republican Senator Thom Tillis said lawmakers needed to take a look at "reasonable measures" to curtail threats to communities.

"I'm happy to look at anything as long as it doesn't deny anybody's rights for law-abiding citizens," he told reporters.

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Source: Reuters