MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Richard Blumenthal Chris Murphy
Date: Jan. 24, 2013
Location: Unknown

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Today, my colleagues and I are
introducing a bill to prohibit the sale, transfer, manufacture, and
importation of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding
devices that can accept more than 10 rounds. We have tried to recognize
legal hunting rights. We have tried to recognize legal defense rights. We
have tried to recognize the right a citizen to legally possess a weapon.
No weapon is taken from anyone. The purpose is to dry up the supply
of these weapons over time.

REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: I`ve watched the slaughter of so
many people and I`ve met with so many victims over the years. And in
Congress, nobody wanted to touch the issue. And the last several years,
the massacres were going on more and more.
And going through it, I kept saying, what`s wrong with all of us? How
many people have to be killed before we do something?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: I will never forget the
sights and sounds of that day as parents emerged from that firehouse,
learning that their 5 and 6-year-old children would not be coming home that
night.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: The gun lobby has said over and
over again in the last several weeks that this is just a feel-good piece of
legislation. You know what? They`re right about that.
It would feel really good if Allison and Charlotte and Daniel and
Olivia and Josephine and Ana had gotten to enjoy Christmas with their
parents. You`d feel really good if Dylan and Madeline and Catherine and
Chase and Jesse and James took the bus to school this morning. You`d feel
really good if Grace and Emily and Jack and Noah and Caroline and Jessica
and Avielle and Ben were alive today.
You`d feel really good if parents all across this country didn`t have
to wake up every morning worrying that without action, that their kids were
at risk just like those kids in Newtown.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who before winning
election to the senate in this past year he was the congressman who
represented Newtown.
Joining us now is not only Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, but
actually the entire Senate delegation from the state of Connecticut,
Senator Murphy joined tonight by his colleague Senator Richard Blumenthal,
who you saw speak just before him.
Gentlemen, I really appreciate you both being here tonight. Thank you
so much for your time.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

MURPHY: Thank you.

MADDOW: Senator Blumenthal, let me -- let me start with you. You
said today that this is going to be a hard fight, that nobody should think
this is going to be easy.
Given how hard you think this is going to be, what do you think is the
best way to fight for it?

BLUMENTHAL: The best way to fight for it is to recall those images
that Senator Murphy and I recounted today -- the images of parents emerging
from that firehouse, the community grappling with that grief, the slaughter
that is wrecked upon America by these assault weapons and the high-capacity
magazines, and the need for banning them. And mobilizing and galvanizing
support so as to overcome the NRA and other entrenched interests, which no
doubt, no question will fight them, make no mistake, there will be a fight.
But as you said, the centerpiece really is a comprehensive program
that has to include the background checks. I propose background checks on
ammunition purchases as well as extended background checks on firearms
purchases so as to cover that 40 percent of private sales and gun show
sales that are not now covered and a comprehensive program of preventing
gun violence has support from the majority of Americans. We need to make
that support focused on Washington, D.C., so our congressional
representative representatives, whether in the Senate or the House, cannot
escape the brunt of that opinion.

MADDOW: Senator Murphy, let me turn to you for a moment. You
represented Newtown as Newtown`s congressman. Now, as senator you
represent the entire state of Connecticut as their senator -- Connecticut
is a small state, but it is a diverse state. It is both diverse in terms
of urban and rural areas. It`s diverse in terms of its population, and in
terms of its political views.
How do you talk to your constituents who feel very strongly about gun
rights and very wary about gun control, that this isn`t going to be
something that`s going to hurt their freedoms, it`s going to help them and
help their fellow citizens?

MURPHY: Listen, every decision you that make on legislation is a
balancing act. And on this one, the test is pretty clear. Do you want to
pass a law that`s going to keep more 6 and 7-year-old kids alive in the
future, or do you want to add some convenience to gun owners who want to
reload a little bit less frequently or want to pretend that they`re
soldiers by owning military-style assault weapons? When you pose that
question to people in Connecticut and frankly across this country as you`ve
shown by the surveys you that talked about earlier, people side with the 6
and 7-year-olds every single time.
And the fact is that that`s true of non-gun owners and gun owners. I
can`t tell you the number of responsible gun owners in Connecticut who have
come up to me over the course of the last month and said, let`s get
something done, I don`t need these kind of weapons or those kind of
cartridges in order to enjoy my sport. And I think we`re going to find
that all across the country, that there`s going to be a pretty impressive
coalition that wants to get this done.

MADDOW: Senator Blumenthal, when you just talked about sort of
honoring the experience of Newtown, remembering those images, remembering
what has created this political initiative, toward doing something about
this at a time when I think people wouldn`t have in advance noted we`d be
doing a gun control agenda right now, what`s the minimum to you in terms of
policy that would honor the experience of Newtown? What`s your single
highest priority, or what do you think is the least that we ought to do to
responsibly respond to what happened?

BLUMENTHAL: A ban on the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
is very important. But background checks I think are common ground where
everyone can come together, whether it`s the background checks on firearms
purchases and I believe very, very strongly on ammunition sales right now.
You can walk into a Walmart, buy a shopping cart full of ammunition
without any background check, without answering any questions -- even if
you`re a convicted felon, a fugitive, a domestic abuser, a dangerously
mentally ill person. To make our neighborhoods safer we need those
background checks.
But also mental health initiatives. Today, I helped to introduce a
measure providing, as it`s called, first aid mental health assistance for
the school boards and local officials. I think we need to emphasize mental
health and school security.
So, it really has to be a combined and comprehensive strategy.
There`s no single solution. And I would just also say in response to your
earlier question, you know, I know, the most important allies in this
effort are the law enforcement community. And I say it as someone who
served as attorney general of the state of Connecticut for 20 years, as a
federal prosecutor, United States attorney for 4 1/2 years.
The guys who are most eloquent and most compelling on this subject are
the ones on the front lines, in the trenches, who see that they`re
outgunned very often. They told me in Newtown that they could not probably
have stopped that shooter even wearing the body armor that they did because
of the assault weapon that he was firing.

MADDOW: Wow.
Senator Murphy, one last question for you. In thinking about
important allies, as Senator Blumenthal was just saying there, and how to
move forward and who speaks with authority here -- one of the things that
we have heard from Washington is that as the Obama campaign turns its
campaign apparatus into a political effort to try to marshal support for
some of the president`s political priorities, they may try to work on this
issue. They may essentially try to turn their campaign apparatus loose on
both immigration reform and on the issue of gun reform.
Do you think that this is the kind of issue on which a grassroots
effort like that could be particularly effective?

MURPHY: It`s the only way that this gets done in the end. Listen, I
wish this weren`t about politics, but it is, right? This is ultimately
going to really come down to a question for Republicans in the House of
Representatives.
I think we can get something strong through the Senate. But in the
House Republicans are going to have to decide whether they`re going to pay
a political price for standing with the gun manufacturers and against
millions of families across this country who want to get this done. So, we
are going to need a massive national grassroots effort, and we are also
going to have to make Republicans understand that the NRA, who they have
long feared, who they have allowed to essentially lead them around by the
earlobe, just isn`t what they used to be. The NRA won 20 percent of the
elections that they participated in, in this last election.
We need a grassroots effort to try to support Republicans who want to
do the right thing. We need to convince them that there`s a price to pay
if they do the right thing. And we`ve got to take on the NRA to try to
debunk this myth that if you cross them there`s a political price to pay.
In fact, the opposite was true in the last election. The NRA barely
could win elections around this country. They just aren`t the force that
they once were.

MADDOW: Senator Chris Murphy, Senator Richard Blumenthal, the Senate
delegation from the state of Connecticut -- the whole country is looking to
Connecticut for leadership, and I think also for moral resonance on this
issue. And everybody`s counting on you. Seeing you guys here together
tonight is a real treat for us to have you both here. Thank you.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

MURPHY: Thanks.

MADDOW: I appreciate it.

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