WALLACE: That was President Obama, Friday, suggesting it is now time to reopen the national debate on gun control.
As horrific as this shooting is, we have been here before as a nation and there has been little interest in the last decade in tightening gun laws.
Joining me now, Dick Durbin, the Senate's number two Democrat, who is in his home state of Illinois.
Senator, how do you read the president's comments that we just played? Is it time for a new push, tighter gun control?
DURBIN: Well, first, let me say the nation is in mourning and reflection and prayer over what happened at Newtown, Connecticut. There isn't a parent or grandparent across America that didn't visualize some child they love being in this terrible situation and subjected to this kind of violence.
But let me tell you, Chris, we need a national conversation. Joe Lieberman called for a commission. I'm open to these ideas. But we need a national conversation about safety. I would go beyond Joe and say, let's add that issue of school safety into the conversation as well.
But gun control is part of it. We need to sit down and have a quiet, calm reflection on the Second Amendment. Are there guns that really shouldn't be sold across America? Military assault weapons such as the one involved in this horrific incident in Connecticut?
Are there high ammunition clips, high capacity ammunition clips that have no value, whatsoever when it comes to sporting and hunting and even self-defense? The person could buy body armor, take that body armor and use it to protect themselves as they kill innocent people.
Can we have a thoughtful, calm, reflection on these things? And do it in the context of our Second Amendment? I think we need to.
WALLACE: The president as we have in that clip, mentioned regardless of politics, and the fact is, that we have that slaughter of people at the movie theater, in Aurora, Colorado, just in July. At that time, you said you supported a ban on assault weapons, you assault weapons.
DURBIN: I did.
WALLACE: You also said back at that time, there is zero chance that Congress will pass that. It's not just Republicans. Quite frankly, as I pointed out to Joe Lieberman, your party has been afraid, because of politics, to push it for the last decade.
DURBIN: Chris, there's plenty of blame on both sides, politically and there is also a responsibility of the people across this nation. I would appeal to the hunters and sportsmen, I know them from Illinois. They are my friends. They are good people. They love their families and hate what they are hearing about Newtown, Connecticut.
But, they have been largely quiet. This conversation has been dominated in Washington by you know and I know, gun lobbies that have an agenda. We need people, just ordinary Americans, to come together, and speak out, and to sit down and calmly reflect on how far we go.
I'm going to be holding a hearing after the first of the year, in about two weeks or so, on this constitutional question. That's the starting point.
The Supreme Court raised questions about the Second Amendment, what are the protections? What are the responsibilities? Let's spell this out and let's try to do it in a thoughtful way and move forward together. That's what we need.
WALLACE: But let's deal with some of the arguments against new gun laws. The fact is that Connecticut, Senator, as you well know, has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. Nancy Lanza, the mother of the shooter, had bought and registered these guns legally.
What more can we do?
DURBIN: Well, listen -- why in the world would anyone, even Nancy Lanza, need a military assault weapon, designed for the military, that has the capacity to fire off hundreds of rounds?
Heartbreaking to hear this coroner speak about these poor little kids, whose bodies were riddled with bullets. For goodness' sakes, can we stop for a moment and reflect on this? I'm all for sport and hunting and self-defense. This goes way beyond that.
WALLACE: And finally, Senator, what about those people who say -- and our next guest, Congressman Louie Gohmert, is one of them -- that the real answer is not fewer guns but more guns so that if a person like this comes into a movie theater or a mall or a school, somebody is there who can take him down?
DURBIN: I just -- I honestly think that that argument just doesn't hold water. When you think about it, are we talking about arming teachers, arming principals? Is that going to make us a safer America? I don't think so.
Too many people are harmed by firearms, their own firearms that are accidentally misused or turned on them. I don't happen to buy that approach.
But I want to sit down and calmly discuss all of the options. I think we need to do this as a nation. That's the only way we can move forward and make sure that there is a lesson to be learned in Newtown, Connecticut.
WALLACE: So, let me ask you, after Aurora, you said there was zero chance Congress would pass a new law. Do you still say zero chance?
DURBIN: No. I think that what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, may at least lead some to finally decide to sit down and to have this conversation. I really think we may have a chance, because of this terrible tragedy. That's what happened after 9/11. It can happen after Newtown, Connecticut, as well.
WALLACE: Senator Durbin, thank you for joining us today, sir.
DURBIN: Thank you.