The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/14/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour – after a day that
will remembered in this country forever for awful reasons.
“To the people of Newtown, we are with you today and in the weeks and
months ahead.” That was the word today from Ron Barber, who was shot and
wounded in the mass shooting in Tucson last year that killed six people and
wounded 13, including the grievous wounding of Congresswoman Gabby
Giffords. Ron Barber, who took Gabby Giffords` seat in Congress after she
stepped down to deal with her injuries. He said today, “As those of us in
Tucson know, senseless acts such as these tear at the very fabric of a
Mark Kelly, Gabby Giffords` husband said today, “I just spoke with
Gabby, and she sends her prayers from Tucson.”
In Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where four months ago this was another mass
shooting at a Sikh temple. Another six people gunned down at that temple.
A school superintendent there today told the local press that she cried
when she heard the news out of Newtown, Connecticut. She said, “We always
think it can`t happen here, and we pray fervently that it won`t. But as we
know from our experience this summer, it can happen anywhere.”
The mayor of Aurora, Colorado, is still helping his community try to
recover from the mass shooting there this summer, where 12 people were shot
and killed and another 58 people were shot but survived. He said today
from Aurora, “Our hearts go out to the people of Newtown.”
Colorado`s senator, Michael Bennet, he said today, “As Coloradans, we
know how this type of tragedy can shake a community to its core. We are
here for Connecticut today.”
Colorado`s governor, John Hickenlooper, he said, “We know too well
what impact this kind of violence has on a community.” He said that the
first thing he wanted to do today was talk to his counterpart governor in
Connecticut, Dan Malloy. Governor Hickenlooper said, “I cannot put into
words how impossible it seems to me that this can happen again so
Virginia Tech was the site of a mass shooting five years ago, where 32
people were shot and killed on a college campus. Another 17 people were
shot and survived. The president of Virginia Tech said today, “We of the
greater Virginia Tech community know from our experience of the unending
sorrow and horror that has now descended on the Newtown, Connecticut
A man who was governor at the time of the Virginia Tech shooting, Tim
Kaine, he said today, “Our commonwealth knows too well the pain of
senseless gun violence.”
Collin Goddard, who survived the Virginia Tech massacre, he still has
three bullets in him that were fired that day. He said today on MSNBC,
“I`m still trying to wrap my head around the mass shooting that happened in
Oregon earlier this week. When I saw this morning that this had happened,
I sunk in my chair. You really cannot do justice to what these kids and
what these teachers have just experienced.”
In the classroom where Collin Goddard was shot at Virginia Tech, there
were 17 people in that classroom. Only seven of them survived.
Two dozen kids were shot and wounded in a high school cafeteria in
Springfield, Oregon, in 1998. The police chief there now, who was a first
responder that horrible day at that Oregon high school 14 years ago said
today about Newtown, “I know that there is going to be a lot of emotion in
that community.” He said, “In addition to the victims and the families in
Newtown,” that his heart goes out to the police and the emergency services
personnel that responded to deal with this, because this is going to take a
toll on a lot of people.”
Beth Nimmo, whose daughter was killed in the Columbine High School
mass shooting, she said today, “As far as the parents go, they`re not going
to know what hp hit them for a long, long time. My heart is racing. I
just feel like these parents, they`re going to hurt so bad for so long and
there`s not much you can do to console something like this.”
Frank DeAngelis was principal of Columbine High School when the
massacre happened there, he`s still the principal there today, he said when
he heard what happened in Connecticut today, quote, “It just made me sick
to my stomach. It just takes me back to what we felt on April 20th, 1999.
Even though it`s going to be 14 years, it just takes us back to that
And Dave Cullen, who wrote the definitive book on the Columbine mass
shooting, he said today, “In my head, I have always insisted that any death
is just as tragic. But little kids, this is overwhelming me.”
We`re going to be covering the latest news out of Newtown, Connecticut
this hour. And there is new news. Law enforcement officer says the
weapons used in today`s shootings were legally purchased by the gunman`s
mother, who may have been one of his victims. In addition to the 26 people
killed at the elementary school, another victim, believed to be the
shooter`s mother, was found at a home nearby.
Also, we`re told that the gunman`s brother, who was briefly
misidentified by authorities as the shooter himself, he was questioned by
police today after being picked up in New Jersey. The brother is not
believed to have had any involvement in the shootings.
We`re going to be getting to all of that latest information, including
some reports tonight from live at the scene.
We`re also going to be talking about the policy debate that has to
arise in the aftermath of this nearly unspeakable event, despite all the
calls for that debate to not happen, at least not today. We`re going to be
talking about all of that this hour.
But right now, the immediate question here is how we connect the
specific horror of this particular tragedy today to the cumulative
experience we have as a country with mass shootings. As a country that is
subject to this kind of violence more than any other country on earth and
more frequently than any of us could possibly imagine, if these previously
unimaginable mass killings were not in fact happening to us as a country,
month after month, year after year.
This is the way we live as Americans. Can we bring anything to the
aftermath and the response to Newtown from our national experience of
living through this time and time and time and time again?
Joining us now is David Cullen. He spent years as a Denver journalist
researching and reporting on the Columbine shootings. He wrote the book
Dave, thank you for joining me tonight in these difficult
DAVE CULLEN, “COLUMBINE” AUTHOR: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: Is there – is this the right question to ask? Is there
anything about the greater context that can inform the way we process what
CULLEN: Oh, I think that`s exactly the right question. You sort of
took my breath away going through that litany. I kind of wasn`t prepared
because I – well, we all lived through all of those, and a lot of those
names I know. But I think it brings home the point even more that there
are things to be learned here that we haven`t really stepped up to learn.
And I think the biggest single thing is we do need to look at the big
picture. Because when any one of these things happens, every – people
feel like they want to know why. Like why did this happen. The small why
of why did this happen and they`re looking at the bigger why, which what
you`re talking about, is, why does this keep happening?
The problem comes in we do a mental thing where we equate those, and
we assume those are the same thing, and they`re not.
There were two really incredible studies done about this, one by the
FBI, one a joint problem of the Secret Service and the Department of
Education. Fantastic studies. Both came to the same conclusion: there is
no single profile of a shooter. There is no – if we`re looking for the
type or the rationale or the motive, the thing, like the reason, it doesn`t
But the good news is believe it or not, and this surprised me, there`s
really three types that cover most of the ground. Now there are some
outliers that don`t fit in there. It`s not 100 percent.
But the vast majority fall into three types. If we understand those
three types and address each of those three, and then sort of one-half and
the other half look at the gun picture, I think we can shrink this
MADDOW: Those three types, in some cases it`s people who literally
are so insane they don`t know what they`re doing. But that`s a very tiny
CULLEN: Yes, it`s unusual. It`s true in some of the major ones in
Virginia Tech and at Tucson, it`s a minority of the cases, though. It does
happen. But that`s one type.
Another type even more rare is the sadistic psychopath. And that we
saw with Eric Harris, the driving force behind columbine.
Also killers – most serial killers fall into that type, Ted Bundy is
a classic. And these are people who – they are not mentally ill. They
know exactly what they`re doing.
They`re very capable. They`re not out of reality. They just have no
empathy for other people. They don`t care.
And with sadistic psychopaths, they are people actually enjoy
inflicting pain on others. They`re doing it because they want to, and they
want to do this horrific thing.
OK, we`ve got those two. Believe it or not, the majority other turns
out to be suicidally, deeply depressed people. And they`re angrily
We don`t normally equate anger with depression. We think of sadness
and sort of droopiness and even the body language. We don`t think of it as
an aggressive type thing.
And psychologists talk about depression as anger turned inward. So
you`re beating up on yourself. So, you`re presenting outwardly you`re this
morose beaten down person because you`ve been beating yourself up.
But sometimes in a small number of cases when you turn that outward,
then we have something like this. And most often when a deeply depressed,
angry person does that, he will normally inflict it either just on himself,
he`ll commit suicide. The next wider thing is he will attack the person he
feels to blame. So if it`s his parents, his girlfriend, if it`s at work,
the boss, they`ll shoot the boss, or it will be contained to the person he
identifies as the causer.
Then, you go to a very small minority of people who will sort of lash
out in that group. And kill not just the boss, but other people at work,
or other people surrounding.
And then you get the person who wants to lash out more wildly.
So those are the three types. We got to be careful not to jump to
conclusions too soon, but it`s almost all one of those three.
MADDOW: Understanding that sort of template, that matrix at least of
why – why of course is the major part of our response. But based on what
we have been through, and based on what you learned about Columbine, if you
could caution anything about a more healthy versus less healthy, or more
constructive versus less constructive response as a nation and as a
community there to this tragedy – is there anything that we have in terms
of lessons learned?
CULLEN: Yes. I think the biggest single thing is we need to address
adolescent depression much more aggressively. There have been a couple of
really blue collar panels, blue ribbon panels that have studied this. They
keep coming to the same conclusion.
There is about 6 percent of U.S. adolescents that are clinically
depressed. That`s not just sad. It`s in a deep state that need help of
one type or another, whether it`s, you know, counseling or drugs or
whatever. They need some help.
They`re relatively easy to identify. And you can do it in a simple
screening process, for very little money. We could have every kid when you
get your high school physical, you also have to get checked out, or
periodically before graduation.
Because the thing is, most depressives, kids want to – they want
help. And they will tell adults – usually the two adults they will not
tell are their mom and their dad. And that`s actually part of the
screening protocol is that parents can`t be in the room, because they will
usually tell a teacher or a counselor or a family doctor. Any – they will
tell an adult, but they hide it from their parents because they`re
embarrassed, ashamed, all sorts of different reasons.
So the parents are often blind to it because the child is sort of
blocking their view. So parents have difficulty. But yes, we can do so
MADDOW: Each one of these things seems like it is so unique and
unimaginable. But it is part of a pattern in our country and understanding
why and how is part of modern American life and our responsibilities.
Dave Cullen, who wrote “Columbine” and did the definitive work on
that, thank you so much for being here. It`s nice to have you here.
CULLEN: Thank you very much, Rachel.
MADDOW: Sure. Thanks.
All right. MSNBC`s coverage of the Newtown shooting will continue in
just a moment. There`s lots ahead. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: We`ll have the very latest on the Newtown shooting in just a
moment as MSNBC`s coverage continues. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: We are back with continuing coverage of this morning`s
massacre at a Connecticut elementary school. Newtown, Connecticut, is
about 60 miles northeast of New York City. It`s near Danbury, Connecticut.
The young man who police say was the shooter reportedly walked into
two different classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary. He fired dozens of
rounds. He killed 26 people – 18 children pronounced dead at the scene,
six adults pronounced dead at the scene, and then two children who survived
their initial wounds and were hospitalized later died in hospital. The
shooter then killed himself at the school.
`The Associated Press” is citing a law enforcement official moments
ago saying that authorities found more than the previously described two
guns at the school once they responded. More firearms than the two we have
previously heard about. They`re not giving any further details yet. But
that report just in from “The Associated Press”.
The students who were not shot, none of them older than fourth
graders, were escorted out of the building by police officers this morning.
They were taken to a fire station next door. Police officers reportedly
told some of the children to keep their eyes closed until they had reached
the parking lot.
Law enforcement officials later discover that another person, an adult
woman, possibly the shooter`s mother, was also shot and killed at a
secondary scene in Newtown. A secondary scene related to the case.
Reportedly, it is the house where the shooter lived with his mother.
If that female victim is confirmed to be the shooter`s mother,
investigator says that what likely happened is that the shooter killed his
mother at home early this morning before then driving her car to the
elementary school where she worked where he committed the rest of the
If that is in fact what happened, that would bring the total number of
people murdered in Newtown to 27 – 26 of them at the school, 20 of them
children. Plus, of course, the shooter`s suicide.
Officials are now identifying the shooter as Adam Lanza, 20 years old.
They say he was carrying two handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
At first, law enforcement officials mistakenly identified Adam`s older
brother Ryan as the shooter, that may be because official says Adam, the
shooter, had been carrying his brother`s ID. It was only when police
tracked down the brother at his apartment in New Jersey that police
correctly identified the shooter as Adam and not Ryan. When he was
arrested, Ryan said that his younger brother Adam had had mental health
But, again, the latest news from “The Associated Press” is that more
than two guns may have been found at the scene of the school shootings.
MSNBC`s Chris Jansing joins us from Sandy Hook Elementary School in
Chris, thank you very much for being here. I appreciate it.
CHRIS JANSING, “JANSING & CO.” HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
MADDOW: Did I just explain about what we know thus far, did that all
sound right to you? Do you have any information for us – updates for us
about any of that information tonight from the scene?
JANSING: I do think it is important to give a little perspective to
exactly what happened here today. And for all of us to take a moment to
think about what it must have been like to be here early this morning.
You described a scene where little children are told to close their
eyes and hold hands and leave a school where they have seen their friends,
maybe their teachers get shot. And they were brought here to this
volunteer fire department behind me in this bucolic town in New England.
It`s a place where tonight they were expecting to sell Christmas trees.
And you could not but help be struck when you drove into town that all the
Christmas lights that were up, even as you see people in their cars and on
the side of the road who are in tears.
And the parents got a reverse 911 call, Rachel. We know that they
came here as the children were brought here. And they went through the
work, and we`re talking about hundreds of kids now, of matching the
children with their parents.
In the end, you have 20 sets of parents who are left. And it is left
to be told to them. And the governor was among those who were there to
tell the parents that your children are not going to be coming home.
And so, I think it goes without saying the devastation that this
community is feeling. The sense of – I wouldn`t even can say outrage yet.
In my experience at these things, the outrage comes later. But the total
feeling of hopelessness and senselessness that has overcome this community
as they try to figure out why something like this could happen, Rachel.
MADDOW: Chris, thinking about that initial response, thinking not
just about what it must have been like to be personally connected to that,
but to be a first responder coming upon that scene and needing to do the
active shooter search that we know that law enforcement did once they
determined that the shooter was dead, then assessing what had happened
there, treating it as a crime scene, trying to identify the victims.
Do we have any further information about how they have had to process
this massive and horrific crime scene, the horrible but necessary forensic
work of how they have been able to process the evidence and identify these
JANSING: The coroner`s team is at the school now. It`s expected to
be an active crime scene, at least to Sunday, probably into Monday morning.
And everyone that we have spoken to who has witnessed what happened
inside there say it is beyond words. It`s unlike any of them have ever
seen, including a number of federal officials, just absolutely devastating.
There has been no formal official confirmation of any of the identities of
the 20 people who were killed. You need to understand that there are state
standards that they must meet.
They have some preliminary ideas, some preliminary identifications.
They`re hoping to have more tomorrow morning. There will be at 8:00 a.m.
Eastern Time news conference to update. I think the details that we do
know about what it looked like inside that room are not things that people
even want to talk about or think about. It was just an absolutely horrific
And it is painstaking and obviously highly emotional work that they`re
doing right now. And will continue to do, we are told, throughout the
night, because those parents who have not been able to be reunited with
their children have not been able to see them yet or to make any plans.
MADDOW: Wow. MSNBC`s Chris Jansing at Sandy Hook Elementary School
in Newtown, Connecticut – Chris, it is a comfort to us to have you on
scene with your experience and capability on a major story like this. Many
thanks, Chris. I appreciate it.
JANSING: Thank you.
MADDOW: Chris Jansing is going to be covering a lot of our coverage
later tonight. She has experienced covering the Columbine, the Tucson
shooting, Aurora. She has been there and seen it. Her experience on a
night like this is invaluable.
All right. President Obama`s response to the Newtown shooting this
afternoon was itself remarkable. That`s coming up.
Plus, we`ve got some news beyond this story to share with you.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: The massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, is unfolding in a way
that may seem familiar. The first calls to 911, emergency responders
arrive, frantic family members converge on the scene looking for their
loved ones, the media starts looking for answers. Government officials are
called to account.
For President Obama, another instance of horrific violence requires a
response, not only to the many individual tragedies of today, not only to
the people of the community rocked by loss, but to the nation and to the
question of what we can do as a nation to keep this from ever happening
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve endured too many
of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news,
I react not as a president, but as anybody else would, as a parent. And
that was especially true today.
I know there is not a parent in America who doesn`t feel the same
overwhelming grief that I do.
The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little
kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.
They had their entire lives ahead of them – birthdays, graduations,
weddings, kids of their own.
Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their
lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.
So our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents,
sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the
adults who were lost. Our hearts are broken for the parents of the
survivors as well. For as blessed as they are to have their children home
tonight, they know that their children`s innocence has been torn away from
them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain.
As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it`s
an elementary school in Newtown or a shopping mall in Oregon or a temple in
Wisconsin or a movie theater in Aurora or a street corner in Chicago, these
neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children.
And we`re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to
prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: As much as we think of this issue as a political untouchable,
not the tragedy itself, but policy to prevent yet another tragedy like this
– as much as we think of this as a subject that cannot be discussed in
Washington, President Obama has spoken to this issue before today. He has
been called to speak to it mostly in response to tragedies like today.
But when you look at his remarks combined over time in full, it`s just
a remarkable chronicle of not just what he has said. What he said must be
done. But it is a remarkable chronicle of what has not yet been done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
OBAMA: It is part of our nature to demand explanations, to try to
impose some order on the chaos, to make sense out of that which seems
senseless. Already, we`ve seen the national conversation commence, not
only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from
the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health system.
And much – much of this process of debating what might be done to prevent
such tragedies in the future is an essential ingredient in our exercise of
I hope that over the next several days, next several weeks, and next
several months we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the
senseless violence that ends up marring this country, but also reflect on
all the wonderful people who make this the greatest country on earth.
Every day, in fact, every day and a half, the number of young people
we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in
that movie theater. For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens
gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, here in New Orleans.
For every Tucson or Aurora, there is daily heartbreak over young Americans
shot in Milwaukee or Cleveland.
Violence plagues the biggest cities, but it also plagues the smallest
towns. It claims the lives of Americans of different ages and different
races, and it`s tied together by the fact that these young people had
dreams and had futures that were cut tragically short.
And when there is an extraordinarily heartbreaking tragedy like the
one we saw, there is always an outcry immediately after for action. And
there is talk of new reforms, and there is talk of new legislation. And
too often those efforts are defeated by politics and by lobbying and
eventually by the pull of our collective attention elsewhere. But what I
said in the wake of Tucson was, we were going to stay on this persistently.
I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers
in war theaters don`t belong on our streets. And so what I`m trying to do
is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence
generally? Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban
But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence.
Because, frankly, in my hometown of Chicago, there is an awful lot of
violence, and they`re not using AK-47s, they`re using cheap handguns.
As a country, we have been through this many times. We`re going to
have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies
like this, regardless of the politics.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Regardless of the politics – that is the crux from Tucson to
Aurora to being reelected to Newtown, Connecticut, to what we hope will
never be next.
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy joins us in just a moment.
MADDOW: The MSNBC policy analyst Ezra Klein put together a long piece
today tying together what he knows about mass shootings and what seem to be
policies that might relate to them as a social problem. Ezra, of course is
a policy guy. So he was looking at this through a policy lens.
And the data it turns out, some of it is what you might suspect. But
some of it really isn`t. For example, we all know that there are a lot of
mass killings in the United States – gun violence where multiple people
are killed by the same assailant.
This year alone, before what happen today in Connecticut, five people
were killed in an Atlanta suburb in February.
A student shot up his high school cafeteria and killed three people
later that same month at that Christian university in Oakland, California,
back in April, there were seven people killed.
A targeted shooting spree in Tulsa, Oklahoma, back in April, was
racially motivated. Five black men shot. Three of them died.
There were five people killed at the Seattle cafe back in May.
There was the Aurora, Colorado, massacre in July. Twelve people
killed, 58 additional people shot who were not killed.
The Sikh temple pass killing in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in August. That
was the white supremacist guy. Six people were killed in that massacre.
The gunman was also killed.
In September, the Minneapolis sign company with the disgruntled
employee. Five people shot and killed there.
The Wisconsin spa shooting in October, three people dead there plus
Just this week, that mall in Clackamas, Oregon – two dead plus the
shooter. That was Tuesday of this week.
Incidents where someone with firearms kills multiple people, these
incidents happen a lot in the United States. And we know that.
But in Ezra`s piece today, we see if you put these shootings in an
international context, it is even more striking. If you look
internationally at the worst mass shooting incidents of the last 50 years,
the worst mass shootings in a civilian context that have happened anywhere
in the world over the course of the last half century, 15 of the 24 worst
mass shootings internationally have happened in our country.
Worldwide over 50 years, a majority of the world`s mass shootings
happen in one country, and that is us. They happen here. I might have
suspected that, but I did not know that.
Also interesting to note that there is not a direct correlation
between the number of firearms in a country and the number of mass
shootings they have. Yes, it`s true we happen to have a lot of guns and a
lot of mass shooting. But there are places that have a lot of guns, places
like Israel and Switzerland, where there`s not a proportionate correlation
between their incident of guns ownership and their incidents of mass
And the more specific you get, the more interesting the data gets.
Ezra highlights an economist`s recent research looking into whether gun
violence in our country is correlated with a lot of other factors that we
sometimes assume must be correlated with it.
But it turns out that things like higher population density is not
correlated with gun violence. It turns out that higher levels of stress in
a definable geographic area are not correlated with higher incidents of gun
violence in that area. Higher levels of mental illness are not correlated
with more gun violence in that area.
The correlation you do find if you break things down to that level in
the United States is that you do get less gun violence in places that have
tighter gun control laws. Tighter gun control laws are correlated with
fewer gun-related deaths. And that is correlation, that is not causation,
but it`s good to know, right?
Ezra said today when – Ezra said today he first started to put
together this index of gun-related wonkery and data after the Aurora,
Colorado shootings this summer. So, he says today in the “Washington
Post,” at this time when we first collected much of this data, the air was
thick with calls to avoid politicizing the Aurora tragedy. Ezra writes
that is code, essentially, for don`t talk about reforming our gun control
Let`s be clear that is a form of politicization. It is just a form of
politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo. Since then there
have been more high profile shootings, Ezra writes.
Jovan Belcher, a linebacker of the Kansas City Chiefs, took his
girlfriend`s life and then his own.
In Oregon, Jacob Tyler Roberts, entered a mall holding a semiautomatic
rifle yelling “I am the shooter.” And now in Connecticut, at least 27 are
dead, including 20 children.
If roads were collapsing all across the United States killing dozens
of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk what we could do
to keep roads from collapsing. If a plague was ripping through
communities, public health officials would be working feverishly to contain
Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying
that mourning is acceptable. But discussing how to prevent more tragedies
is not acceptable. “Talking about how to stop mass shootings in the
aftermath of a string of mass shootings,” Ezra writes, “is not too soon.
It is much too late.” Ezra there echoing comment there`s from New York
City`s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has long been very outspoken on this
issue, but never more so than today.
He says, quote, “We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk
about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech, after Tucson and Aurora
and Oak Creek. And now, we are hearing it again. For every day we wait,
34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were 5-year-
President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families
in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix
this problem. Calling for meaningful action is not enough. We need
We`ve heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is
leadership, not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end
This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My
deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected. And my
determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.”
That is from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In 1993, there was a mass shooting on the Long Island railroad in New
York. Six people were killed, 19 people were shot and wounded.
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy`s husband was among those killed, and her
son was among those wounded.
After that attack in 1993, Carolyn McCarthy ran for Congress on a gun
control platform, and she won that seat in Congress.
Today, in response to what happened in Connecticut, Carolyn McCarthy
said, “These shootings are becoming all too common, and it`s too easy for
dangerous people to get the weapons that help them perform mass executions
like today`s. Leaders in Washington from both parties and groups like the
NRA all say that now is not the time to talk about how gun safety laws can
save lives in America. I agree, now is not the time to talk about gun
laws. The time for that conversation was long before all those kids in
Connecticut died today.”
Carolyn McCarthy`s mention of the National Rifle Association, the NRA,
is what everybody is talking about when they talk about the need for
leadership regardless of the political consequences on this issue. When
the president today said we are going to have to come together and take
meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the
politics, he was talking there about the power of the NRA as a lobby.
And it is true that they have so dominated their field of policy that
instead of having the gun laws most Americans would like to have, it
sometimes seems like instead we as a nation just have the gun policies that
the members of the NRA would want. That is the impression that we all
have. But that is not at all true either.
We do not have the gun policies in this nation that members of the NRA
want for this nation. Look at this polling from July of this year. This
is NRA members. Fifty-seven percent of the NRA members believe that
everyone who wants to buy a gun should have to pass a criminal background
check, 71 percent of NRA members support banning people on the terrorist
watch list from purchasing guns.
Those are not things that are true of American law right, which is
amazing. If you are on the freaking terrorist watch list, you can buy a
gun in America. If we`re going to get past this almost hysterical fear of
trying to do anything at all on gun rights, if we`re going to try to
puncture the myth that anything to reform or rationalize gun laws is
absolutely politically impossible as a categorical thing, what would happen
if we just started at the edges? What would happen if we just started even
members of the NRA say they want from national gun laws? Because they want
a hell of a lot more than we`ve got right now.
The organization they are a member of may not admit that, but when you
poll their members, even they want improvements. Could we at least start
with what NRA members want?
Joining us now is Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy. She is a Democrat
of New York.
Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. It`s nice
to have you here.
REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Rachel. And thank
you for giving that important information out to your audience.
MADDOW: We have spoken after previous mass incidents of gun violence
in our country, meaningful conversations of gun control did not happen
after Tucson or after aurora. Do you think this time might be different?
MCCARTHY: I`m hoping. Today when the president spoke, his tone
seemed a little different. Maybe it`s because of my hope, because we`re
going to need a president to lead us through this if we are going to do
And I agree with you, you know, why can`t the NRA and many of us that
are not trying to take away your right to own a gun, but to certainly make
sure that the guns don`t fall into the wrong hands.
And as NRA members have said, let`s close the gun show loophole.
Let`s make sure everybody goes through a background check. Let`s make sure
that we can do whatever we can so the easy access to guns can save lives.
You and I have had these conversations before. You`re absolutely
right. The NRA and the gun manufacturers, which would supply them with the
money through the lobbying firms are the ones that are basically making all
politicians, the majority of politicians shake in their boots.
We are supposed to be there to protect the people. We are supposed to
be there to make legislation, to make lives better. And we`re able to do
that. But to be very honest, the American people and NRA members actually
go forward and say enough is enough. We can do better than this.
You and I have talked about this before, Rachel. We spend billions of
dollars every single year because of people that die from gun violence and
people that survive from gun violence. It`s costing our society – I`ve
always looked at it as a health – national health crisis.
And there are so many things that we can do. You know, even just what
we`re going to be doing when we go back to Washington next week, when
they`re going to be talking about cutting the budgets back. We`ve already
closed many of our mental health clinics down. We`re already cutting back
on reaching out to young people. We`re even doing that to our veterans as
they come home.
Where is this going to stop? What kind of mass murder do you want out
there before we say enough is enough?
If I sound frustrated, I`m sorry. I`ve been crying all day. And all
the victims that I know across this country have been crying also – for
the children that have died, for the parents that have to go through what
they`re going to be going through, not only this week, next week, but for a
very long time.
The Christmas lights are up. The Hanukkah candles are being lit. And
these families are going to be suffering for so much longer.
It`s only the American people can say to their politicians do
something. Instead of trying to gagging all of us and saying we can`t do
anything about it, we should ignore it.
MADDOW: Representative Carolyn McCarthy, Democrat of New York – your
moral suasion on this derives in part with your tragedy with the subject,
but it is multiplied by your eloquence on the subject. Thank you so much
for being with us tonight.
MCCARTHY: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks. Obviously the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut,
dominates the news tonight. But there are other important stories
developing, and we`re going to be catching you up on some of those, next.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: We will have more on the mass shooting in Connecticut at this
hour, but there is some other news to get to tonight. Sometimes on days
like this, there is important news that gets crowded out of the news cycle
by the dominant story on a day like today. It`s understandable, but there
is some other important stuff I want to make sure you know about.
The first of these stories is that President Obama this afternoon sent
a formal letter to Congress, which he is required to do by law, informing
Congress of where he has been deploying American troops. It`s the 1973 War
Powers Resolution requires the president to update Congress on military
decisions that he has made without them.
President Obama`s letter today explains that there are 66,000 U.S.
troops remaining right now in Afghanistan.
But it also includes some places we have troops that we are not as
familiar with. We currently have 79 troops U.S. military deployed in
Uganda, 760 U.S. military personnel are currently serving in Kosovo, to
take part in the peace-keeping mission there that is left over from the
peace agreement there in the `90s. And the U.S. security personnel sent to
Libya and to Yemen after the attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S.
ambassador there, those troops that were sent there in September, we`re
told in the president`s letter tonight that troops remain in Libya and in
Yemen for the foreseeable future.
But even beyond that accounting from the president to Congress
tonight, we do have one more nation to add to that list of where Americans
are deployed abroad. They are deployed now to Turkey. And this is the
second thing to know in today`s news that has been swallowed by the vortex
of what happened today in Connecticut.
The Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced today that at least 400
U.S. military personnel are being deployed to Turkey in order to operate
these. This is a Patriot missile launcher. The Patriot missile system is
a U.S.-made surface-to-air missile system that`s designed to seek out and
destroyed incoming missiles. It detects incoming rockets on radar and then
tries to shot those rockets out of the sky.
As the Syrian government is being accused by NATO of using Scud
missiles inside Syria, the U.S. military is now sending to battery of
patriot missiles to a country that neighbors Syria and is our NATO ally.
That is the nation of Turkey.
Turkey had requested these Patriot missile batteries earlier this
month. Today, we found out they are not only getting the missiles, they
are getting 400 Americans to operate them as well. And that will have huge
diplomatic and huge security consequences if Syria decides to project force
over their border into Turkey, because now there will now not be just Turks
there, but American uniformed military personnel, as well.
And third to know about in today`s new other than what`s going on in
Connecticut. The Intelligence Committee in the Senate decided to approve a
report more than three years in the making, a report detailing the CIA`s
torture during the Bush administration.
Senate investigators spent the last three years reviewing 6 million
pages of intelligence documents. They`ve now submitted their report which
is 6,000 pages on what they found out about that program, and that report
has now gotten the Senate Intelligence Committee stamped of approval.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was the chair of the
committee, says the unclassified reports – excuse me, says the classified
report uncover, quote, “startling details about the CIA, detention and
interrogation program.” Before the report can be released to the public,
and it is not even certain yet that that will happen, the CIA gets a chance
to review the findings, and essentially to give their side of the story.
Well, tonight, NBC`s Andrea Mitchell has obtained an internal e-mail
from the acting director of the CIA to all the employees of the CIA. It
says in part, quote, “We are well aware that this program has been the
subject of much controversy. It is important to remember that the program
was terminated by presidential executive order almost four years ago.”
Again, that was an internal e-mail obtained tonight by Andrea Mitchell
from the acting CIA director, Michael Morrell, to CIA employees.
A news day like this tends to occlude all the other news, another than
the big story, for good reason, but that is what`s going on. We`ll be
MADDOW: This afternoon in Washington, D.C., at roughly the same time,
flags atop the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building were both lowered
to half staff. President Obama ordered flags to be flown at half staff in
all U.S. public buildings and grounds and all U.S. facilities and at all
U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, in the wake of today`s
massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Flags will
remain at half staff until sunset on Tuesday.
So, there was the sight of those flags today, and the sight of the
president wiping tears from his eyes, repeatedly, in his remarks today on
And then, there was an announcement from Republican House Speaker John
Boehner. Speaker Boehner issuing a statement that the weekly Republican
address will not be happening this weekend so that, quote, “President Obama
can speak for the nation at this time of mourning. I join the president
and all Americans in sending prayers and condolences to the victims` loved
On Sunday, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, there will be an interfaith church
service at Newtown High School in Connecticut, where the incident happened.
The next briefing from police and other officials is expected to be
held at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.
In terms of our coverage tonight, I have a correction to make.
Earlier in the show, I said that if you ask NRA members that they believe
if people have to pass a background check in this country before buying a
firearm, I said 57 percent of members said yes to that. It`s actually 74
percent of members who want a background check law to buy a gun in this
country – 74, not 57. I`m sorry about that. We switched up our slides on
Here on NBC, our continuing coverage of the mass shooting, this
massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School will continue now into the night -
- live from Newtown, with Chris Jansing.
Please stay with us.
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