Mr. Murphy Goes To Washington
Sen. Chris Murphy and the Do-Nothing Congress
Not to release our breath, but something short of a miracle happened last fortnight and commanded the 24-hour news cycle for shy of ninety minutes:
Mr. Murphy goes to Washington and helps pass the most impacting gun violence legislation in a decade.
Consider shielding ourselves from the recent Supreme Court ‘mal-decision’ (1) which stole Murphy’s thunder and redeem this moment: gun violence and mass murder legislation passed in the US Senate.
Senator Chris Murphy remade himself for the effort and this was huge, for Murphy, for the US Senate, for the victims of Sandy Hook and their families and the string of mass murder victims falling daily across America (2).
Gone was the strident, justifiably angry Senator from Connecticut. He had left. The new ‘Mr. Murphy’ appeared in Washington, determined to, as he put it, create “space” on matters that we can agree, shoving off and sailing for a while past the nay-sayers and arm twisters. (3)
It was a ‘David Hogg dream moment’ (4).
It required the blessing of the elder Senate Majority Chair Chuck Schumer.
Murphy’s effort was a ‘miracle’ on several fronts. One, it was a vindication, a small step for those who suffered and for a nation in tears and tears. Two, it provided America, much needed space to cogently and soberly discuss public safety: a crack in the wall letting in light from the outside.
Third, Murphy’s effort was rooted in outcomes, not win-lose scoring points. His was the focus on outcomes strategy, not transaction peddling. And what he asked Senate leadership for and got was ‘the space to agree on what is acceptable at this time.’ In other words, not merely a ‘mutually agreed compromise,’ but an outcome.
In what seemed like a flash, the Senate decided. Not to ‘control guns’ nor to arrive at the ‘right decision’ but to engage a discourse, we — emphasis on ‘we’ — can have at this point.
Sounds feeble, yes, but also courageous.
The gravelly road Murphy and the ten Republicans had been traversing on gun control was not so much “do nothing,” but “do nothing privilege.”
A wise friend once confided to me, “being a survivor doesn’t only mean you are lucky; it’s that, but it’s also means that you’re privileged”.
“Don’t forget that.”
Mr. Murphy forgot that he was a Senator and became a ‘Mr.’ He ‘made space’ for some colleagues from across the aisle to enter the domain of the less privileged.
1-Adam Liptak, “Supreme Court Strikes Down New York Law Limiting Guns in Public,” NYTimes, June 23, 2022
2-Shortly after I had completed writing this piece, a 22-year-old gunned down July 4 parade goers in Highland Park, Illinois.
4-David Hogg, mass shooting survivor, gun control activist and co-founder, March for Our Lives