Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) delivered a speech on the Senate floor about the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. In the speech, he discussed his experience in Newtown over the past four days and proposed policies to reduce gun violence in America.
Blumenthal started the speech by describing his experience on Friday at the firehouse in Newtown.
"As the details mounted, I left Hartford to go to the firehouse in Newtown. I arrived there as a public official but what I saw was through the eyes of a parent. The firehouse in Sandy Hook is where the parents went to find out if their children were okay," Blumenthal said. "The way they found out was, their children appeared -- or they didn't. So after a while, some of the children came, and their parents took them home, and others did not. I will live forever with the sounds and sights of those parents -- the cries and sobbing, cries of grief and anguish."
In the middle of the speech, Blumenthal proposed policies to prevent future gun-related massacres.
"We need to do something to effectively ban assault weapons. I am talking about weapons that are not designed for self-defense or hunting, but rather for killing as many people as possible, as fast as possible. There is no reason that such weapons should be for sale in America today," Blumenthal said. "We need to do something to ban high-capacity magazines. Neither hunting nor self-defense requires 30-round clips. We need to do something to better prevent mentally ill people and criminals from having firearms. I don't know whether better laws could have prevented the shooter in Newton from getting his hands on the weapons he used. But we must look at what we can do to identify people with serious mental problems before it's too late. We should ensure that all firearm sales involve a background check, including guns that are not sold by licensed dealers -- and that those checks are thorough and comprehensive."
Blumenthal added, "Nothing here means that we should trample on the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court has spoken clearly in the Heller case that law-abiding Americans have a Constitutional right to own firearms, whether for self-protection, hunting, or competitive shooting. That is settled law."
Blumenthal ended the speech by committing to work in a bipartisan fashion to avoid future gun-related massacres.
"I will work with the President, and with my colleagues in the Senate, regardless of party or geography. I will work with any organization that is willing to engage in a thoughtful, constructive discussion about what steps to take to avoid tragedies like the Newtown shootings in the future," Blumenthal said. "I will work to find a solution to this crisis -- because it is a crisis -- and I will not be deterred by any organization or campaign that uses scare tactics or intimidation. Because there was nothing more frightening than looking into the eyes of the parents who lost their children last Friday -- that is any parent's worst nightmare."
Blumenthal concluded, "I know there are some who say that we can never do anything about the problem of gun violence, that we are so entrenched as a nation and so polarized as a political body, that we will just continue to wring our hands after every massacre but never take action. And yet, sometimes events happen that so horrify our country and our fellow citizens, that they change the nature of the discussion. They change the political ground under us. They are a tectonic shift. I believe that the massacre of these innocent children and their loving teachers in Newtown is such an event. Yesterday, some of my Senate colleagues had the courage to join this call for action and say publicly that we cannot go on as before. I want to thank particularly Senators Manchin and Warner. Their heroic stance is an invitation, and a challenge, to every other member of the Senate to join in a common effort, to find common ground -- and at long last do something to stop the killing."