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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript - Gun Control


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BOLDUAN: Brianna Keilar at the White House. Thanks, Brianna.

And joining me now from Connecticut is the senator from Connecticut, Chris Murphy.

Senator, thanks so much for taking the time.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: So Newtown was in your district, and you've been very passionate about gun control, stricter gun control measures. How do you respond to your three Senate colleagues who are threatening to hold up consideration of this bill?

MURPHY: Well, listen, I don't think it's much of a news flash that Republicans are going to filibuster gun reform. We knew all along that Republicans were going to stand in the way. We knew we were going to have to get 60 votes, but that doesn't stop the fact that these three senators as well as their colleagues who are going to vote with the gun lobby are just out of step with the American public. I mean, everything changed after Newtown.

The fact is that 90 percent of Americans in poll after poll say they want a universal background check law. Huge majorities of Americans want a ban on assault weapons and these high-capacity magazine clips that murdered 20 kids in Newtown.

I just think ultimately the Republicans don't want to be and shouldn't be the party of the gun lobby, the party of assault weapons and we will have to get 60 votes. I think they will be there for some of the most essential components, and I think we knew that all along. This isn't much news to those of us who were pushing hard for these laws.

BOLDUAN: What would you say to any of those three senators if you could talk to them today?

MURPHY: Well, listen, I would tell them they are on the wrong side of history. That ultimately if we don't do something now about these mass killings and about the everyday violence that happens in our cities, it's just going to continue.

And I would say they are wrong on the constitutional question. A lot of these senators believe that the second amendment is absolute. It's not. I support the second amendment. I just support the real second amendment. And the real second amendment allows Congress and allows our community to put reasonable restrictions on the kind of guns that are available to people.

So, I think that the senators who think that you can never, ever infringe upon the private right of gun ownership just have the constitutional history and interpretation wrong.

BOLDUAN: Now, real quick on the issue of public support. You said there is public support for expanded background checks. But on the issue of more stricter gun control measures, we have seen a drop in some public support. In a recent poll that we have it shows there was a nine-point drop in support of major restrictions on gun control from December of 2012 until now. And as we're looking at the gun control proposals considered in Congress since Newtown, they seem to be getting more and more watered down as a political reality has set in. Have you lost momentum? Have you lost public support?

MURPHY: No, absolutely not. I mean, you can show one poll that shows a slight drop in support, but then there are other polls that show the support has been steady all along. The fact is the majorities of Americans support getting rid of these assault weapons, getting rid of these high-capacity clips.

Now, I won't deny this is a tough slog in Washington. The NRA is very powerful. I've been making the case for weeks and months that nobody should be afraid of the NRA that, frankly, they lose a lot more elections than they win but for two decades they have effectively locked down any common sense gun reforms. So, I don't think anybody should be surprised that it's hard to get majorities in the United States Senate or the House of Representatives. This place has gotten pretty used to doing what the gun lobby says and it's going to take a lot of elbow grease and hard work and those of us who care about gun reform to try to change that reality.

BOLDUAN: Well, let me ask about the issue of gun reform more broadly. "New York Times" columnist David Brooks wrote a very interesting editorial today saying that essentially the gun debate has been missing the mark. And he says that past efforts to control gun violence, to control guns -- to control guns has not reduced gun violence.

He also says this, and I thought it was interesting. He said we have a successful history of reducing violence by spreading efforts across the killing chain. We have a disappointing history of trying to reduce violence with a gun-obsessed approach.

I mean, he makes the point that any attempt to stop gun violence needs to be more than just focusing on the gun. And we're not only talking about really the possibility of expanded background checks. Does he have a point?

MURPHY: Well, he does have a point. And the fact is that the effort is much more comprehensive than just restricting guns. We are just trying to get to a common sense position on gun reform. We are not talking about moving to extremes. We are just trying to make sure that everybody that buys a gun goes through a background check. That's not an obsession over guns. That's just trying to reflect where 90 percent of Americans are. But he's right in the sense this is much deeper than just the laws about guns.

The fact is that in many of our inner cities there's a sense of hopelessness and kids feel that their only way out often is to express power through violence. We have to give a sense of hopefulness that they can have a life outside that unfortunate reality that is married together with violence far too often. That's a much bigger conversation about guns. But let's just get to where the majority of the country is on guns and then we can have a bigger conversation about how we try to reduce some of the endemic causes of violence in our cities.

BOLDUAN: Passions remain high on both sides of this issue as they always do.

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, great to see you, senator. Thanks for your time.

MURPHY: Thanks, Kate.


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