School shooting coincides with Senate debate over gun policy

The entirety of the nation’s latest deadly school shooting – the latest of many – lasted approximately 16 seconds.

A teenage gunman opened fire at a Southern California high school Thursday morning, killing two students and wounding three others, before shooting himself in the head, officials said.

The suspect, whom authorities described as an Asian male who turned 16 on Thursday, was in critical condition at a hospital, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Thursday night. Surveillance video showed the shooter pull a gun from his backpack in the quad area of Saugus High School, shoot five people and then shoot himself, it said…. A 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy died, authorities said. Three other students – two girls, 14 and 15, and a 14-year-old boy – were also shot before classes began, officials said. They were listed as stable on Thursday night.

In a rather remarkable coincidence, 2,665 miles to the east, there was a debate underway on the floor of the U.S. Senate – about gun policy.

A Democratic senator was giving a speech on the Senate floor Thursday morning advocating for stronger gun control measures when an aide handed him a note, informing him there had been a shooting at a high school in California.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut was speaking about a push for universal background checks as news of the shooting was breaking from the other side of the country at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita.

After being handed a piece of paper with news of the school shooting in southern California, the Democratic senator explained to his colleagues, “As I speak, on the floor right now, there is a school shooting in Santa [Clarita], Calif. How can we turn the other way? How can we refuse to see that shooting in real time, demanding our attention, requiring our action?”

Blumenthal added, “We are complicit in these deaths if we fail to act.”’

What Sens. Blumenthal, Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) were advocating yesterday was a Senate vote on the background-check bill that passed the House in February.

Their efforts, predictably, fell short: Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) blocked their request for a vote yesterday.

That all of this unfolded the same morning as the latest deadly school shooting made it that much more extraordinary.