Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) called for the passage of “meaningful” gun safety legislation after a deadly shooting in Atlanta on Wednesday.
One person died and four others were injured after a shooter opened fire at a medical center in the city’s Midtown neighborhood. Schools in the area went on lockdown, including the schools that Warnock’s two children attend, the senator said in a floor speech on Wednesday.
“They’re there, I’m here, hoping and praying that they are safe. But the truth is, none of us is safe,” Warnock said.
“The unspoken assumption is that ‘This can’t happen to me, this won’t happen to me, it won’t happen to people that I love.’ But with a mass shooting every day, the truth is, the chances are great,” he said. “I shudder to say it, but the truth is, in a real sense, it’s only a matter of time that this kind of tragedy comes knocking on your door.”
Warnock observed that mass shootings have happened in a seemingly endless variety of environments. “We’re not safe in our schools,” he said. “We’re not safe in our workplaces. We’re not safe at the grocery store. We’re not safe at movie theaters. We’re not safe at spas. We’re not safe in our houses of worship. There is no sanctuary in the sanctuary.”
Cities around the U.S. have been wracked by gun violence and mass shootings in 2023. There’s been particular attention paid recently to cases where people were shot for seemingly trivial reasons, including for taking a wrong turn, knocking on the wrong door or accidentally getting into the wrong vehicle.
“We are becoming a heavily armed nation so fearful and angry and hair-trigger anxious that gun murders are now just the way in which we work out our frustrations,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in another impassioned floor speech last month. “This is a dystopia, and I’m here to tell you that it’s a dystopia that we’ve chosen for ourselves.”
Last year, after the horrific mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, Congress passed a modest gun safety package that enhanced background checks for gun purchasers under 21 and bolstered funding for red flag laws, which help remove guns from the hands of people who have been deemed a danger to themselves or others.
But Republicans have firmly opposed more stringent measures like universal background checks and bans on assault weapons, despite overwhelming public support for further legislative action.
“In a country where there is 87% agreement on something, there’s no movement on it in Congress, which means that that’s a problem with our democracy,” Warnock said on Wednesday. “The people’s voices have been squeezed out of their democracy, and there is a growing chasm between what the people actually want and what they can get from their government.”