MADDOW: Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy today speaking at the state
capitol in Hartford, where more than 5,000 people turned out today, two
months to the day after the Newtown shootings to demand policy changes in
response. Joining us now is Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, who
serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has introduced the ammunition
background check act of 2013.
Senator Blumenthal, thank you for joining us again tonight. I really
appreciate your time.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: It has been two months since what happened at Sandy Hook.
You and I have talked several times on this show since the tragedy about
how the nation`s going to respond. What is your assessment today --
particularly after the issue played such a large role at the State of the
Union? What`s your assessment today about how we`re doing in terms of our
BLUMENTHAL: First and foremost, Rachel, clearly the Connecticut
effect, as that NRA spokesman termed it, and I asked the NRA to repudiate
it, that Connecticut effect is not going away. The rally today in Hartford
The State of the Union response shows it, where the entire chamber
literally rose to its feet when the president said those measures deserve a
vote, the families deserve a vote.
I think we`ve really reached a tipping point or turning point in the
national debate. And what`s also different this time, as the president
said, is that the NRA has lost a lot of its political heft. You know,
Wayne LaPierre has spoken the last couple of days with the kind of hate and
fear that clearly consumes him but also consigns the NRA as an organization
to the political fringe of this national debate.
And certainly, he no longer speaks for many NRA members, no longer
speaks for the majority of gun owners, and that`s a fundamental difference
as well. So I think the sense of urgency has been maintained and
sustained. The momentum is there. The judiciary committee`s going to mark
up a bill.
In other words, frame the final language of the bill next month if not
this month. And those votes will occur on the floor of the Senate, I hope
and believe, because the president`s absolutely right. Those families, the
victims, the first responders, all Americans deserve a vote.
MADDOW: In terms of the way that the president phrased that in that
repetitive cadence that he had that was so moving but also very specific
saying these "deserve a vote, deserve a vote, deserve a vote." And he went
out of his way to say, if you want to vote no that`s OK, but we ought to
I wonder what your assessment is of what he`s getting at there
politically. My sense was that he meant the way that the gun lobby works
is by preventing people from ever having to take a stand on this,
preventing people from ever having to put themselves in the position of
voting against something that would be very popular like a background
check, that the way that they get what they need is making stuff not ever
come to a vote and we ought to vote on it, is that what you think he meant?
BLUMENTHAL: I think that is exactly what he meant and I think that`s
our hope for what we want. Ninety percent of the American people say they
are in favor of background checks for all firearms purchases.
Approximately the same percentage, maybe closer to 80, say they are in
favor of background checks for ammunition purchases.
Keep in mind. Right now, the law says that criminals, drug addicts,
domestic abusers, people who are seriously mentally ill, are barred from
buying both ammunition and firearms. And yet, there`s no background check
to make that law enforceable. The president was very specific, as you said
so well, not only about who deserves a vote but what measures deserve a
vote, background checks, the assault weapon ban, the high capacity magazine
prohibition, trafficking and illegal weapons, straw purchases safety.
So there ought to be, there has to be a strategy and we deserve to
have a vote, people can vote against it. But the American people deserve a
vote. Our constituents deserve a vote and small minority should not block
MADDOW: Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut -- Senator, thank
you for being here tonight. I have a feeling we are going to keep this
conversation going you and I, as long as you are willing to come back.
Thank you, sir.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you, Rachel. I`ll be back.