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Joining us now is Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Senator,
thank you very much for being with us tonight, at a difficult time.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you.
MADDOW: Let me start by asking if you do think the political
environment has shifted on this issue because of what happened in your
state, that there is a new political reality in Washington?
BLUMENTHAL: I think there is a new political reality, but really, a
seismic, almost tectonic shift in the public awareness of this issue, and
the political sense that something must be done. That`s what I hear
constantly. And I`ve spent three or more days in Newtown, Connecticut,
with the community there that is coming together and seeking to heal and
expressing its grief.
But again and again and again, law enforcement officials, people
across Connecticut and I think across the country are saying we need to do
something and that`s reflected in some of the developments that you just
cited. And I think in some of the expressions on the part of some of my
colleagues in the Senate, private as well as publicly, I`ve spoken to some
of your Republican, who came to me after we did a vigil, just last night,
with interest in what can be done, the common sense common ground that we
can seek together.
But it`s never been a politically safe issue. It`s going to be a
tough one. And I`m committed to stay with it. I hope the American people
MADDOW: When the public have seen through previous eras in
Washington, seen through gun control measures that seem difficult but
eventually got done, one of the things they talk about is timing,
particularly when the public is galvanized because of an issue like this,
because of an incident like this -- does that mean that there should be
something put forward, even if it isn`t the most comprehensive change in
the world in a way that could be done quickly during the lame duck session?
Something that could be done fast so that something else could be done more
in the future?
BLUMENTHAL: There is a great deal of focus, I need not tell you on
the fiscal cliff, some of the issues that were so much on people`s minds
even before this horrific tragedy that has galvanized public opinion.
Whether there is time in the next two weeks remains to be seen. Certainly
there are active efforts under way.
The ban on assault weapons is being written now as we speak. My staff
and others are involved. Dianne Feinstein, who has been such a leader on
this issue, and others are taking the lead. The high capacity magazines
certainly could be part of that measure.
And increased background checks, only 60 percent of all the sales now
involve those background checks. And they could be improved, perhaps
administratively without additional legislation. And mental health
efforts, funds and support for law enforcement so that they can better do
All of them are feasible and achievable whether in the next two weeks
or in the first two weeks of the new Congress when I hope we can continue
to move forward and build on this moment. We need to seize this moment.
It is one that comes rarely in American political life when the political
stars are aligned in a way that makes progress possible.
But again, the American people are key to this effort. And your
viewers and everyone involved in forming public opinion I think has a
responsibility to continue talking about it, continue to raise public
And talk about what it means to have an assault weapon, how this
killer was able to blast his way into the school with multiple 30-round
clips and then use a weapon that was designed only to kill and maim people
-- not for hunting, not for recreation or competitive sport, but to kill
and maim people at war. It`s a military-style weapon. And that kind of
reality I think needs to be brought home.
MADDOW: Senator Blumenthal, I know time is short. You`re on your way
back to Connecticut. I know you`ve been in the state a lot since the
Do you feel, briefly, that community is getting the support it needs,
the resources it needs from the federal government and from other aspect of
the nation that you need to be tapping here beyond our sympathy and our
BLUMENTHAL: There has been an outpouring across the nation. And
Newtown, you know, is a very strong, resolute, resilient community bound by
And the president`s visit Sunday night I think reflected feelings of
the American people. He was very powerful and moving at the vigil that
And Newtown has been supported because we know America is with
Newtown. And everywhere I go, again, people are expressing their grief and
their sympathies. I will be back in Connecticut for the next number of
funerals that I have attended, as well as the three days.
And I will live forever with the sights and sounds, with the cries of
anguish and grief of parents who emerged from that Sandy Hook firehouse
knowing on Friday early evening that they would never see their babies,
beautiful children who went to school that day ready to build ginger man
and learn their ABCs.
The brutality of this crime on children so young I think has touched
something very deep and profound in America. And I hope we can seize this
MADDOW: Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut -- thank you so
much for your time tonight, sir. Good luck. Thanks.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
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