The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/2/13, 10:34 PM ET

The senators brave enough to fight for the assault weapons ban

In another episode of “they were right,” MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell takes a look back at some of the 52 Democrats and Republicans who had the political...

Blood or guts? The senators brave enough to fight for the assault weapons ban

Updated

As msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell continues to take a look back at the lawmakers “who [were] right when American needed them to be right,” Connecticut legislators announced a deal Monday on what legislators are calling “the most comprehensive package in the country” following the killing of 20 schoolchildren and six educators. The proposal calls for background checks for private gun sales, a new registry for existing magazines that carry 10 or more bullets, the nation’s first statewide dangerous-weapon-offender registry, and an eligibility certificate to purchase a rifle, shotgun or ammunition.

After weeks of negotiations and multiple reviews on current gun laws, mental health care and school security, the legislative deal is expected to pass in the Democratic-controlled legislature later this week. Gov. Dannel Malloy, who has called for increased gun control legislation, would then sign the bill.

On the same day, six relatives of Newtown victims went to Capitol Hill and asked lawmakers to sign off on a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines that carry 10 or more bullets. The gun bill heading for the Senate floor will not include an assault weapons ban but Sen. Dianne Feinstein has said she will introduce an assault weapons ban in a separate amendment, which was the way it was originally passed in 1993.

Sen. Feinstein said in her introductory statement: ”Mr. President, I believe it is time to stop the sale, the manufacture, and the possession of more semiautomatic assault weapons on the streets of America.” Feinstein continued: “It really comes down to a question of blood or guts, the blood of innocent people or the Senate of the United States having the guts to do what we should do when we take that oath to protect the welfare of our citizens.”

In another episode of The Last Word’s “They were right” series, here’s a look at those who had the political courage to stand with Sen. Feinstein to fight for the assault weapons ban the first time around.

Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio): “How can we consider passing a crime bill that does not do anything about getting rid of these semiautomatic assault weapons that are mowing down Americans every day of the week.”

Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.): “Mr. President, I rise in support of the amendment of the Senator from California.”

“It is time to send him a bill that will end the production of these military-style assault weapons, and I emphasize military-style assault weapons.”

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.): “Madam President, I am a cosponsor of this amendment to ban assault weapons. I hope that my colleagues will stand up to the NRA – do what is right. Let us ban these weapons. Let us protect our law enforcement people. Moreover, let us show we mean it when we say we want to fight crime.”

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.): “Madam President, I, too, want to join in voicing my support for the amendment.”

“These matters of violence are not statistics but real human beings, real people, real families, real tears, real blood, and they deserve to have some action in the Senate. I hope the senator’s amendment is accepted.”

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.): “To whom are we going to listen? That is the issue. Is it going to be the lobbyists of the NRA or is it going to be men and women who put their lives on the line every day defending us? To whom are we going to listen? I suggest we listen to the police.”

Sen. John Danforth (R-Missouri): “Madam President, I support the very thoughtful amendment offered by Senator Feinstein.

“Guns are terrific killers. That is what they are made for, to kill. People kill people. Yes, and guns kill people. Terribly. Efficiently. Easily.”

Sen. Harlan Matthews (D-Tenn.): “The amendment is confined to weapons that have one purpose and that purpose is blowing human beings to bits. Our future is in doubt because we are slaughtering one another.”

“And that is why I urge every Member of this Senate to support it into law.”

Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.): “These are guns that are designed exclusively to spray large groups of people with gunfire in a short period of time.”

“Guns that have no other purpose but to kill as many human beings as quickly as possible.”

“I urge all of my colleagues to support this measure.”

Blood or guts? The senators brave enough to fight for the assault weapons ban

Updated