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Washington’s elected leaders react to Texas school shooting

Members of Washington's Congressional delegation are reacting to yesterday's mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Multiple elected leaders call for strengthening gun laws, both at the local and national level, to prevent another school shooting.


Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell calledon her colleagues in Congress to "finally come together to pass legislation that will save lives.”

She said, "The majority of Americans support common sense measures to combat gun violence ... such as background checks and red flag laws."

In a statement, Democratic Senator Patty Murray said "How many more lives have to be lost before Republicans wake up to what the majority of Americans have known for years? Gun safety laws save lives."


Democratic Representative Suzan DelBene, chair of the New Democratic Coalition, said "We have the power in Congress to pass lifesaving legislation, and we can’t let another day go by without addressing this American epidemic."

In her statementas chair of NDC, she called on the Senate to pass the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, both previously passed by the House.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, talks to The Associated Press about her goals as a champion of human rights issues, and President Joe Biden's domestic agenda, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. Now in her third term, Jayapal represents Washington's 7th District and is the first South Asian-American woman elected to the House of Representatives.
J. Scott Applewhite
The Associated Press
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said "This isn't inevitable. We have an obligation as public servants to interrupt this relentless march of violence." Read her full statement.

Democratic Representative Derek Kilmer describedthe events as "every parent's worst nightmare." He also pointed to the legislation passed by the House that has not been taken up by the Senate.

Kilmer is chair of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, tasked with making Congress more collaborative and transparent. The committee has also made recommendations for crisis operations in an emergency such as the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Rick Larsen will return as 2nd Disrict Congressman, following his narrow victory over Republican challenger John Koster.
Representative Rick Larsen.

"Like clockwork, thoughts & prayers are extended & condolences are offered, but laws do not change," said Democratic Representative Rick Larsen. He calledon society to not tolerate a reality where mass murder is normal.

Chiming in today on Twitter, Republican Representative Dan Newhouse offeredhis prayers to the victims, families and Uvalde community. "The shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, is beyond comprehension," he said.

Democratic Representative Kim Schrier said, "As a mom and a pediatrician, this hits way too close to home."

Yesterday, Democratic Representative Adam Smith said in a Twitter post that "thoughts and prayers won’t cut it - we need to act." He followed up on that today sayingschools should be a safe haven and that "we cannot wait."

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., rehearses the GOP response to the State of the Union on Capitol Hill. She delivered it Tuesday following the president's speech.
KNKX File Photo
Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers

"We should all be asking the difficult questions of what puts someone in a place where they're taking this kind of violent and horrific action against innocent young lives," said Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers in a Twitter post soon after news broke of the shooting.

Democratic Representative and former Mayor of Tacoma Marilyn Strickland saidschool shootings happen because "we have failed to protect our children" and that "gun violence is a policy choice."

Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler was the only member of Washington's 12-person congressional delegation who did not have any statements about the mass shooting on Twitter or her congressional website.

Other elected leaders

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, a public safety advocate, released a statement listing shootings he says we haven't learned from: Sandy Hook Elementary. Pulse Nightclub. Buffalo. And the massacre from a hotel window in Las Vegas. Harrell asked, "What will it take for Congress to adopt the common sense gun laws that save lives?"

Jay Inslee
Ted S. Warren
The Associated Press
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at a news conference, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia.

The mayor also wrote that Washington needs change, too. He said that state law keeps cities and towns from passing nearly any gun control measures and that local governments need the freedom to prevent violence in their community.

"ENOUGH," Governor Jay Inslee wrote on Twitter. He said the public, and children, are paying the price of the gun lobby's "cynical interests."

Inslee called on Congress to do what Washington State has already done regarding gun control, including passing: universal background checks, a ban on high capacity magazines and liability for unsafe gun storage.

"Actions speak louder than thoughts or prayers," Inslee said. "Your turn, Congress."

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Vivian McCall is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host. She previously spent eight years as a reporter in Chicago, where she wrote for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ public radio.