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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript - Gun Control

Interview

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MADDOW: I have not given up on this. After news broke yesterday that
the assault weapons ban would be dropped from the broad gun reform bill in
the Senate, the junior senator from the state of Connecticut, Chris Murphy,
said that he wants to be able to get a vote specifically on the high
capacity magazines, a ban on high capacity magazines as a standalone
amendment.

The senior senator from Connecticut is Richard Blumenthal. He is a
sponsor of the assault weapons ban. He says that while he supports a broad
gun measure, the ban on assault weapons is the single piece of legislation
that is most relevant to what happened in his state to spark a new round of
national interest and reform on this measure. To what happened in his
state, which, of course, was the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary
School in December.

Senator Blumenthal says that if we are to address what happened that
day, the assault weapons ban is a must for how to do it.

Joining us now is Senator Richard Blumenthal, the senior senator from
Connecticut, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Blumenthal,
thank you very much for be being back with us tonight. I appreciate your
time.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you.

MADDOW: The headline in all the Beltway press is that the assault
weapons ban is over, that it`s dead, it`s not going to move forward at all.
Senator Harry Reid says it won`t get past a filibuster. But Dianne
Feinstein, the White House chief of staff, the vice president are all
saying do not proclaim it dead already. This can still happen.
What do you think?

BLUMENTHAL: Reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated. I think
that it still is very much alive. And the reason that I think so is that
the vast majority of American people want this provision of law, because
they know that an assault weapon, an AR-15 was used in Newtown magazine, as
was as a high capacity magazine. The two provisions are joined together
for a reason. They both attest to what we must do to stop more Newtowns
and Newtown is a call to action.

So I think what has to happen, the silent majority, up to now silent,
to become a lot less silent and to tell their congressmen and their
senators in the next two weeks when they`re home, what they think is
necessary. Now, the bill right now, as it`s been described, the base bill,
has a lot of good elements -- the illegal trafficking ban, the straw
purchase prohibition, the requirement for background checks of all purchase
of firearms and, of course, the school safety provisions, all very, very
important.

But I think we need to keep fighting.

MADDOW: Do you think that this is an issue -- specifically on the
assault weapons ban which right now includes that extended magazines ban --
do you think this is going to make a difference on the pro gun reform side
of it? The NRA says that the pressure from its members are what stopped it
in its tracks.

Do you think that members of the Senate who have been on the fence,
who would not feel particularly inclined to stick their neck out on this
issue could be pushed by their constituents?

BLUMENTHAL: Very much so. Three and a half months ago, this issue
was thought to be politically untouchable. The whole issue of gun violence
prevention was thought to be politically so risky that no one would get
near it.

But this time really is different. And we`ve made a lot of progress
so that the public sense of urgency has really tipped. It`s changed
viscerally and seismically.

So I think that as long as we can sustain that sense of urgency, as
long as people in Congress hear from the country, I think it can be passed.
We knew it was going to be an uphill job. It was always going to be a
marathon, not a sprint.

And the assault weapons ban was always the most ambitious, the
politically toughest of all these provisions. And I am looking forward and
I will be proud to be with Dianne Feinstein in supporting this measure when
it`s offered as an amendment and I hope that it will pass.

MADDOW: Today, the news out of Colorado was so shocking in terms of
the death of the corrections commissioner last night, shot on the doorstep
of his home. That happening just hours before the Colorado governor was
due to sign three new pieces of gun reform legislation into law.

Obviously, there`s no reason for us to believe that the incidents are
connected other than the fact that it was a gun murder. Just a remarkable
confluence of headlines though.

I wonder how you view the fact that Colorado and also New York state
have sort of led in terms of the states in terms of passing those extended
magazine bans, is what`s happening in the states giving any sort of
momentum to what might happen at the federal level or to other states?

BLUMENTHAL: I think it does enhance the momentum, these kind of
events which tragically and unfortunately have continued and probably will
continue. And nobody wants them to continue, but they will add urgency.
And the point about Colorado, although we know very few of the
details, but the 2,500 people who have perished, who have been killed by
gun violence since Newtown, 2,500 people, a lot of them were killed with
stolen guns, illegally trafficked guns, straw purchased guns, guns that
would have been stopped from purchases by background checks.
These other measures can make a difference. So we should look for
what is positive and important in the bill that will be presented with the
leadership`s endorsement and try to improve it with amendments on the
floor. That`s the strategy that I think has to be followed using the
momentum that`s generated by unfortunately these continuing incidents.

MADDOW: Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, thank you very
much for your time tonight. Sir, I have a feeling we will be in further
touch with you as this stuff moves quickly. Thank you.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you very much.

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