Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) had to interrupt his own Senate floor speech on the rise of gun violence in the U.S. on Thursday to announce to his colleagues that another deadly school shooting had just taken place ― this time in Southern California.
Blumenthal first learned of the mass shooting while speaking about the need for tougher gun background checks, not long after Senate Republicans blocked a gun reform bill that had passed the House with bipartisan support.
“We are complicit if we fail to act,” the senator said as an aide passed to him a note about the attack on Saugus High School in Santa Clarita that left two students dead and injured several others.
“As I speak, on the floor right now, there is a school shooting in Santa Clara, California,” Blumenthal told his fellow lawmakers, misreading the city name. “How can we turn the other way? How can we refuse to see that shooting in real time demanding our attention, requiring our action?”
The senator then returned to his original speech: “We are complicit if we fail to act. It is not just a political responsibility. It is a moral imperative.”
That morning, a gunman opened fire at Saugus High. When police arrived, they found at least six people shot. Officials say the suspect, a 16-year-old student who apparently shot himself in the head, was being treated at a hospital Thursday.
While police were still responding to the shooting, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) blocked a Democrat’s request for the Senate to unanimously pass the universal background check bill, which would bypass the need for a Senate debate on the matter.
Hyde-Smith argued that gun reform laws like the one before them should not be “fast-tracked by the Senate” nor should it be “exempt from debate from the Senate floor.”
She also expressed concern that the bill would require her to go through a “lengthy and potentially expensive background check” if she wanted to give her grandson her hunting rifle.
After he spoke on the Senate floor, Blumenthal expressed his condolences to the victims of the shooting and their families.
“We can’t take back the loss [and] fear you’re feeling, but we’ll keep fighting to end this epidemic of violence,” he said in a tweet.