Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a vocal gun control proponent, pushed back on a gun rights argument Wednesday night, saying it’s “ridiculous” to assume you can’t “regulate evil.”
“This idea that you can’t regulate evil is ridiculous,” Murphy told MSNBC host Chris Hayes.
Murphy appeared on Hayes’ show, “All In,” just after a Florida shooting, which resulted in at least 17 fatalities.
Although Murphy conceded it was impossible to stop every evil act, he said the “core functionality of government” was to “try to regulate evil instincts.”
“We have enough data,” Murphy said, “to know that there are policy tools at our disposal to dramatically change the trajectory of violence in this country.”
He and Hayes suggested the United States, by not enacting gun control, was failing in one of its most basic responsibilities.
“We are absolutely shirking our most basic, foundational responsibility when we allow evil to act unabated in this country as we are with inside the debate over gun violence,” Murphy said.
Murphy also blasted “thoughts and prayers” offered in the wake of Wednesday’s and other shootings.
“Your thoughts and prayers are pretty meaningless if you’re not actually willing to put action behind your faith,” he said.
In the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s shooting, Murphy and other Democratic lawmakers lamented Congress’ inaction in response to mass shootings.
While speaking on the Senate floor, Murphy tied Congress’ inaction to “mass atrocity” in the United States.
“It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else,” he said.
Earlier in his MSNBC interview, Murphy said Congress’ inaction sent a signal of approval to young men contemplating mass violence:
“It is Congress that has applied a kind of quiet, unintentional endorsement to these murders. … By doing nothing about it, by refusing to have a debate about criminalizing the purchase of these weapons, we’re sending this just very strange, perverse signal to these unhinged, young men who are contemplating these crimes of violence that if it comes with no condemnation from the highest levels of government, then maybe they’re green-lighted.”
He clarified, however, that he didn’t think that was his colleagues’ intent:
“I know that’s not what my colleagues mean to do, but people listen to what we say and what we do,” he said. “And when we do nothing, it has impact.”
Murphy cited Congress’ inaction in confronting AR-15 rifle — the gun police said 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz used in his rampage — possession in the United States. Shooters, as he noted, used that rifle in previous massacres.