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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/17/12

Guests: Cory Booker, Chris Murphy, John Edwards

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks, my friend. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. We`re going to have the latest on the aftermath and the continuing news out of Newtown, Connecticut, tonight, as well as some other important politics, news that is not related to what happened in Newtown. The brand new senator-elect from Connecticut is Chris Murphy. He`s going to be joining us this hour. The mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker, is going to be joining us in just a moment. As well the police chief from Oak Creek, Wisconsin where that mass shooting at a Sikh temple occurred this past August. That is all coming up this hour. But, in order to understand one important element of the response to Newtown, in order to try to get a handle on the range of possible outcomes here, as we try to make decisions as a country as to whether we are going to change as a country because of this massacre and because of the national heartbreak it has caused, to try to get at that very big question, there is a very narrow discussion to be had about a piece of new technology. A piece of new technology that is worth explaining in this context, then it is this. This is something called a 3D printer. The idea behind a 3D printer is that anybody can become a small-scale manufacturer of anything. All you have to do is download a computer file or create a computer file that has the specifications for the shape of a thing that you would like to build. You do have a limited range of the material that your 3D printer can make something out of that you have programmed it to make. But you can create a physical, three-dimensional object with something that is the equivalent of a printer. Now, as yet, these things cost a few thousand bucks, but it is a relatively straightforward thing. This exists. There are a bunch of different brands of them out there. You can manufacture something. It`s neat. It`s also interesting and complicated and maybe quandary-inducing when you consider the fact that one of the things that people are already starting to build things with what they call 3D printers, these home manufacturing kits where you can make anything, one of the things people are already starting to make is a gun. If you think about a gun as being kind of like a car, then the engine and the drivetrain in the car, the part that makes it go, the equivalent of that in the gun is the part that`s called the lower register. It`s the guts of the gun essentially. It`s the part of the gun that`s registered and regulated even if all the other parts of the gun can be bought, just as if they were pieces of plumbing. But the lower receiver -- I said lower register before -- the lower receiver is the guts of the gun. It is the heart of the thing. And people have started to make lower receivers for AK-47 style weapons at home, using a file that you can download on the Internet. You can actually down load it right here. I have one on my computer, which makes me wonder about the next time NBC comes and checks my computer. This is what happened when the folks who printed that lower receiver fitted other parts of a gun that are not regulated the way a lower receiver is, fitted other parts of a gun onto that piece that they printed with a 3D printer. This is the video they released of themselves firing bullets out of it. And as you can see, the 3D gun failed and busted apart after it fired about six rounds, which makes it yes, a gun, but the technical term for what kind of gun it is, is that it is a crappy gun because it blew apart six rounds. But this kind of thing is probably not going to stay a crappy gun for long. Not when you can get this far with stuff you can find around the house, right? For all the work that has gone into thinking about who is allowed to have a gun in America and where you can buy one and what kinds of guns people are allowed to have, that all kind of goes out the window. People can just download their chosen weapon at home and have it made manifests at their desk, as a fully functioning real-life weapon. We are not far off of that. What`s that going to do to our gun laws? We have faced technological challenges to our thinking about guns before. In the late 1980s, advances in gunsmithing made it seem inevitable that gun manufacturing firms, like Glock, for example, would start making fully plastic weapons, guns that would not ping at all if you carried one through a metal detector. And since metal detectors and X-ray machines were and are a major part of how we keep guns out of places that they are not allowed to be in this country, the U.S. Congress in 1988 passed something called the Undetectable Firearms Act. The Undetectable Firearms Act said basically, your gun has to be detectable in an X-ray scanner. It has to have the equivalent X-ray signature of 3.7 ounces of stainless steel, even if you take out the magazine where the bullets go and the stock and the grips. Even with those parts taken off, the remaining guts of the gun need to have a substantial metal component so they will set off a metal detector, so they will be seen on an X-ray machine. And because of that law, we do not have fully plastic guns. That law was first passed in 1988. It was not particularly controversial. The vote in the House on that was 413 to 4, and President Ronald Reagan signed it. And tyranny was not unleashed upon the land. And nobody came to get anybody in a black helicopter. And it is not controversial now that it is illegal to manufacture or sell or possess a gun in the United States that is built to evade detection by standard means. We don`t have plastic guns. We banned plastic guns. The ban has been renewed several times since. It is up for renewal again next year. And Congressman Steve Israel of New York is making the case that the new prospect of people being able to manufacture plastic guns at home with their privately owned 3D printers might be a good reason to renew that ban again when it comes up for renewal next year. Changing laws about guns in this country, it`s always said to be impossible. But, over and over again, it proves to not be impossible. I mean, soldiers use fully automatic machine guns in battle all the time, right? There are millions of these weapons in circulation. But they are comparatively rare in instances of U.S. civilian gun crime. It`s not that they never turn up, but they`re comparatively rare, because fully automatic weapons are tightly regulated for the civilian market. Semi-automatic weapons, not so much. But fully automatic weapons, yes. That`s because of federal regulation. Also, two years before President Reagan signed the plastic gun ban, he signed a ban on civilian sales or use of armor-piercing bullets -- bullets that are designed to penetrate body armor. Also in 1993, another president, President Clinton signed a bill named for the official who has been shot along with President Reagan, when John Hinckley tried to assassinate him. The Brady Bill named for James Brady instituted a federal background check system for people buying guns. Yes, there are plenty of loopholes to the background check system. But the system didn`t exist at all before the Brady Bill made it so in 1993. They said it couldn`t be done. It was done. Then, the year after that, another step, the assault weapons ban. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Democratic sponsors of the crime bill expect that President Clinton will take a major role in making sure the final bill bans semi-automatic assault weapons. As NBC`s Pete Williams tells us tonight, this is the major, unresolved issue and it is a big one. PETE WILLIAMS, NBC REPORTER: They`re called semi-automatic weapons. Each pull of the trigger fires one bullet. Americans own about a million of them. But they`ve been used in some especially deadly shootings, like this one last July at a San Francisco law firm that killed eight. That led a California senator to propose a ban on 19 types of semiautomatic rifles, pistols and shotguns. That`s now in the Senate crime bill. It targets weapons that have detachable clips for bullets, folding or telescoping stocks and such features as bayonet mounts. The bill sponsor calls them assault weapons. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: The bill sponsor was successful. The bill became law. The bill`s sponsor was Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. Back in 1994, after a mass shooting at a law firm in San Francisco perpetrated by a man with two Tec-9s and a semi-automatic pistol, took eight lives before he took his own, the assault weapons bill passed in 1994. It was 10-year-long bill, which meant it was, in effect, for 10 years. Passed in `94, that means it came for renewal in 2004. And in the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in 2004, we, as a country, decided to let it expire. Remember how I said the vote on the ban on plastic guns back in the `80s was a very lopsided vote. It was 413 votes in favor and only four votes against? Dick Cheney was one of the votes against banning undetectable plastic guns designed to slip by metal detectors and airport X-ray machines when he was in the Congress. Dick Cheney in the Congress also voted against the Reagan ban on bullets designed to pierce body armor. And when the assault weapons ban came up for renewal in 2004, Bush and Cheney made sure it expired. Well, this weekend, Dianne Feinstein said she`s going to bring the assault weapons bill back. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: This is a first day bill I`m going to introduce in the Senate. And the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons. It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession, not retroactively, but prospectively. And it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets. So there will be a bill, we`ve been working on it now for a year. We`ve tried to take my bill from `94 to 2004 and perfect it. We believe we have. We exempt over 900 specific weapons that will not fall under the bill. But the purpose of this bill is to get just what Mayor Bloomberg said -- weapons of war off the streets our city. DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: What makes you think you can pass it now? `We`ve had tragedies before and nothing happens. FEINSTEIN: Well, I`ll tell you what happened back in `93 when I told Joe Biden who was chairman of the Judiciary Committee that I was going to move this as an amendment on the crime bill, he laughed at me. He said you`re new here. Wait until you learn. And we got it through the Senate. We got it through the House. The White House came alive and the House of Representatives and the Clinton administration helped. The bill was passed and the president signed it. It can be done. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It can be done. Every time something happens to reform gun laws in this country, there`s the sense of marvel. They said it couldn`t be done, but look what we were able to do. It can be done. It has been done. It`s been done a lot. The biggest barrier to changing gun laws now in the wake of this latest massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, with 20 6 and 7-year-olds, among the 27 dead, the big majority of American public, and even a big majority of NRA members in favor of at least starter reforms to our gun laws, the biggest barrier to reforming our laws now may just be the pervasive common wisdom that it`s not even worth it to try. Modern history defies that common wisdom. But it persists. It persists, maybe. Now, the last time we talked on the show about the long, long and long lost modern history of bipartisan gun reforms was in the wake of the Tucson mass shooting this past January, which very nearly killed Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. And in the wake of that shooting, the Tucson shooting, this was the general assessment about whether any reform of gun laws possible. These were the headlines that we had: "Gun control dead," "A nonstarter", "Shootings unlikely to change laws", "Don`t expect any changes." That was our random survey of the headlines last January after the Tucson shootings. At least if you asked the Beltway shooting gods, after the Tucson shooting this past January, no change was possible. Now, it seems like the common wisdom may be less certain. Look at the headlines now. And it`s more like this. "Debate on gun control is revived." "Lawmakers call for tougher gun laws in wake of Newtown massacre." "Democrats vow action on gun control in wake of Newtown shooting." "Gun control debate simmers after Sandy Hook massacre." Nobody is saying it`s going to be easy for our country to reform its gun laws in the wake of this latest massacre of innocent civilians by someone wielding weapons designed for combat. Nobody says it`s going to be easy to make those reforms. But anybody saying it will be impossible is either spinning you or they are not paying attention. History proves the change is possible. History proves that change is the only thing that is inevitable. Joining us now is the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, my friend, Cory Booker. He`s also the member of the Coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Mr. Mayor, thank you for being here. MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK, NJ: So great to have you. We`ve had this conversation before and I`m glad to be back. MADDOW: Yes, we`ve had this conversation in our personal lives as friends, but we have this conversation in public whenever there is another horrible incident like this. How much do you think national -- the sense of national calamity and heartache changes what is politically feasible right now? BOOKER: I think it changes it dramatically. You know, look, I just want to point out that this is a gut-wrenching tragedy. But every single day, we have over 30 people that are murdered by gunfire, countless others who remain wounded, paralyzed by guns. I see it on the front lines in my cities and other cities all across America, and the urgencies there. And now, hopefully, more people are seeing if you don`t solve this problem, it`s going to continue to pop up around our country. And this is the beauty of it in my opinion. This is almost the elegance of it, is that the majority of Americans, the majority of gun owners, the overall majority of NRA members agree on sensible gun laws that will make a dramatic difference, 74 percent of NRA members agree with most of us that if you have a criminal conviction, that criminals should not be able to buy guns. And even at higher levels, when you think about the reality, that if you are a suspected terrorist in America, you can go to the secondary gun market and buy a weapon and conduct the kind of terrorism we saw in Mumbai which was done with automatic and semi-automatic weapons. This is the calling of our country, is to do what the overall majority thinks is right. And it makes a difference. And let me give you one example. One out of every two women murdered with a gun are murdered by an intimate, by someone that they know well. That`s why on the federal register that they do not allow people who are domestic violence perpetrators to buy guns. But that I have can still buy guns, a domestic violence perpetrator can buy a gun on the secondary market, where estimates are that 40 percent of gun-buying is done in America. In states that closed down those secondary markets that said it`s illegal to buy guns on the secondary market, that you must have criminal background checks, that percentage of women murdered by their intimates with weapons has gone down 40 percent. It makes a difference. We can save lives if we just do what we all agree, including gun owners, agree should be done. MADDOW: Do you feel -- I mean, making the case that policy makes a difference is a -- actually contested and emotional point to make, because we all look at -- I mean, we`re all looking for something that`s going to be an easy solution to a complicated problem, right? And there are so many things about potential fix to the gun laws that wouldn`t have stopped this particular crime. BOOKER: Right. MADDOW: For example, the way that these particular guns were attained, the fact that this young man seems to have gotten them from his mother who was a target shooter, who obtained them legally and had them all licensed. But now, we`re in a situation where we`ve had so many of these incidents, we can`t treat them like individual, unrelated incidents that can`t be tackled because they all have individually different circumstances. There`s a pattern. BOOKER: Right. And so, this is -- exactly. This is not a one quick flip. But if we really analyzed this issue, and I think cleared the table of what we all agreed on. Let me give you an example. People with mental health issues registering with -- states registering so that they cannot buy guns. The federal government started that off. They don`t have the power through the Tenth Amendment to compel states to do that. So, right now, there`s 19 states with less than a hundred people in their entire states that are registered with people that should not be sold guns because of mental health issues. Some states are not being affirmative. We all agree that someone has a mental health condition or severe mental health condition, shouldn`t buy guns. But it`s going to take someone moving our government and our policy to catch up with the people of the United States of America. MADDOW: Do you think it`s more likely that we`ll have advances, reforms of our gun laws, at the local level and at the state level than we`ll have it at the federal level? BOOKER: I think courage is called for at every level. There are things the federal government needs to do that will help me in my city, that my local laws or my state laws will not accomplish. And just like with getting everybody to have a common speed limit around the country, the government couldn`t mandate that, but they could create carrots and sticks, highway funding and the like. So we need courage and leadership for our leaders to not wait for the national sentiment, but to get out in front and begin to lead along the lines of common sense. That`s what`s being called for right now in our country. And it will save lives. MADDOW: What are some of the things that you have tried in Newark that you`ve had high hopes for or you`re surprised by their effectiveness in terms of trying to reduce the level of gun violence in your city? BOOKER: So understand this. The overwhelming majority of my gun crimes and the overwhelming majority of gun crimes committed in America are done by people who get guns illegally, by people who get guns in the secondary market. That`s what I said before. About 40 percent of our guns are being sold in secondary markets, places like gun shows, the Internet, there`s no regulation, there`s no background checks. MADDOW: Private sales, sure. BOOKER: Private sales. So that`s how are coming into cities like mine. So by states taking action and shut down those second markets, where, again, every -- the majority of gun owners, our Republican pollster, our Coalition of Mayors, is a Republican pollster to poll gun owners and NRA members -- 74 percent of NRA members, 82 percent of gun owners believe that these secondary markets should be stopped from selling to people without doing criminal background checks. If we shut that down, the flow of weapons into my city, into Camden, Philly, New York, New Haven, that flow of weapons into these streets, many of them coming to the South where they have secondary markets that are thriving, they would stop and dry up. So, on the local level, this is what mayors get so frustrated about. We are pouring incredible amounts of money, almost my entire property tax base in my city, forget about the rest of government, is being used for public safety purposes, more police on the streets, more cameras like trying to lower this level of violence. I`m doing everything right now, I`ve got a woman with a caliber, she were melting down seized weapons and selling them as jewelry in order to get money for more gun buy backs, because it helps guns in the streets. You name it, I am trying it. But without state and federal laws changes, many mayors are fighting a very uphill battle and won`t be able to stop the levels of violence in America to the extent that we want. This is a moment and it needs leadership to seize it at every level of government. MADDOW: Well, you hooked me up with a link for the melted down guns becoming jewelry to finance gun backs? BOOKER: Caliber is the name of it. I definitely will. MADDOW: This is like some sort of like liberal trifecta out there. It just hit me. Right there, jewelry and gun violence. BOOKER: And a large percentage of profits are -- good percentage of the profits are going back to helping do gun buy back programs in my city. MADDOW: Yes. BOOKER: Look, I just tell you, the national sentiment on drugs is moving, on marriage equality is moving, on guns are moving, but we need leadership on all of these issues that are not popular. We need politicians to risk political capital and tell the truth about what needs to be done to make our nations more equal and safer. MADDOW: Cory Booker, thank you, man. Great to see you. BOOKER: Thank you very much. MADDOW: Corey Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. All right. Still lots to come on President Obama`s response and a local response in Newtown. Plus, some politics news today that is not about this major story. Lots ahead, stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, in Connecticut, investigators looking into the Newtown school shooting, said their investigation could take months to complete. The shooter did not leave behind a note or a letter. They also say the hard drive to his computer had been removed and severely damaged as if it had been smashed with a hammer, so say the police. According to "The Washington Post," the shooter had no social media profile, not even a Facebook page. One former classmate said he had been home schooled for a time before attending the local high school. But, again, the investigation to the shooter is on going and a complete profile may not emerge for days or weeks yet. Investigators are hoping to learn as much as they can by learning of the survivors of the massacre, that is survivors -- plural -- as in two of them. Today, we learned that two adults survived Friday`s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School instead of the one that was previously reported. Also, contrary to some earlier reports, a state police spokesperson says now the shooter had no connection to the school either to his mother or to himself. Sandy Hook Elementary School is closed indefinitely. School officials say it`s unclear if the school will ever reopen. Moving trucks were seen outside the school this morning, school officials planning to move furniture and supplies to a vacant school in a neighboring town that students will attend instead, at least for the time being. In Newtown today, the first two funerals for victims, both of them 6- year-old boys, Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto. Jack was buried in a New York Giants football jersey. His favorite football player was Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. Victor Cruz had the boy`s name written on his cleats for yesterday`s game. Connecticut`s governor unveiled a plan to memorialize all of the victims on Friday. Governor Dan Malloy asking for churches to ring their bells 26 times on Friday, one week after the shooting began at Sandy Hook - - the bells to be followed by a moment of silence. In Washington, the House today held a moment of silence before it began its evening session. Connecticut`s congressional delegation held a vigil in the capitol tonight. Congressman Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who`s the state`s new senator-elect, he brought to the floor a resolution honoring the teachers, the first responders, the doctors and others in Connecticut affected by the massacre. Senator-elect Chris Murphy is going to be our guest tonight for the interview. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The town of Newtown Connecticut is in the fifth congressional district in that state, which makes the congressman, Congressman Chris Murphy. Congressman Murphy was just elected senator in Connecticut last month. He will be sworn in to the upper chamber in January. Senator-elect Chris Murphy joins us tonight for interview. Senator-elect, thank you for being with us. It`s nice to have you here. SENATOR-ELECT CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: It`s nice to be with you. MADDOW: The whole country`s heart is bound up in your congressional district right now, bound up in this town. What can you tell us about your experience in this last few days in Newtown? What do you think about what`s going on in Newtown that maybe isn`t translating to the national stage as the whole country looks toward that town? MURPHY: Yes, I`ve had the honor of representing Newtown for the last six years. You know, at some level, I relate to this like everyone else does. I have a 4-year-old son that I dropped off at school on Friday morning. A few hours later, I saw him with a big smile on his face. You know, there are 20 sets of parents in Newtown that dropped their kids off that same Friday morning and that was the last day I ever saw of them. You know, Newtown is a small town. It`s really the quintessential New England village. It`s got a Labor Day parade that runs through the center of town, the biggest one in the state. You know, every church group and civic group and religious group, they spend half the year getting ready for that parade. They take a lot of pride in it. It`s a really close knit town. That makes this grieving process even worse. Remember, this is a community school. So every single kid who was killed on Friday comes from a handful of neighborhoods. And so, everyone knows these families. But, you know, that also points forward to how Newtown is going to survive, because it is so close. Because the process of grieving has happened through thousands of small acts of humanity that have occurred in the fire house in neighborhoods and churches. And so the smallness of the town makes it hurt everyone more. But how close knit this community is sort of points the way to how we`re going to survive. MADDOW: Obviously, there`s no way to help in the way that help needs to be done. The only kind of help that would matter is if this had not happened in the first place and we cannot go back in time. But as Newtown is trying to cope and Connecticut is trying to cope, do you feel like the heartfelt feelings of the nation are translating into the literal help that you need either from the federal government or any other resources. Is Connecticut and is Newtown getting what it needs at a policy level? MURPHY: No, it is getting what it needs right now. We have an overabundance of counselors who are on the ground. There`s state troopers assigned to every single family, to make sure that they have what they need. But, also, to make sure that the media, which can tend to overstep its grounds, its bounds sometimes, is held in sort of the right level of advance. The question is what happens two or three weeks from now. We have more counselors than we need today. But when the cameras leave and when the focus of a nation goes somewhere else, it`s going to be our job to make sure that we have just as many resources three weeks from now or a month from now because the grief is only beginning. I mean, we had our two first funerals today. I was at one of them. There`s going to be parents and teachers and kids who don`t grab ahold of their grief, who don`t even realize what they saw for another few weeks. This morning, Noah Pozner`s funeral, his twin sister was there. And you can tell that she, like probably hundreds of other kids at that school, haven`t yet even come to grips with their loss. We`re going to need a lot of help and resources three weeks, three months, three years from now -- not just right now. MADDOW: I wonder how you feel at this juncture right now in your own life. I mean, you`ve gone from spending six years in the House in a very hard fought campaign for the U.S. Senate. You`ve been elected senator- elect in Connecticut. You`re going to be moving into that upper house in Congress. You`re moving into a time in your life where you`re going to represent this entire state and you`re moving into a policy role where you`re one of one hundred people. It`s an incredibly powerful position to affect policy. Do you feel constructive about what policy can do? Do you feel hopeless about this at this point? How do you feel what you`re about to do in your life given what the challenges are in your home district? MURPHY: Yes, I mean, clearly, mid priority is a new U.S. senator has just changed over night. I`m going to make it my mission to help lead the policy conversation on how we make sure that this doesn`t happen again. Or even if it happens that the death and destruction is limited in a way that we couldn`t here today. So, yes, from a personal perspective, my job as a U.S. senator is fundamentally differing. I`m going to be leading a grieving process and leading a recovery process. You know, I was at a congregational church service in Newtown on Sunday morning. You know, I can`t tell you the number of people who even now, only 48 hours after that death and destruction grabbed me and said, make sure this doesn`t happen again. Go to work. And I think it`s going to take those of us that represent Connecticut a few more days than everybody else to join this national conversation. But I think we`re going to find out that there was some pretty easy policy steps, whether it`s on guns or addressing a culture of violence that could have at least created a less likely environment for something like this to happen. The tipping point should have happened a long time ago. We don`t need a national conversation. We need national action and I`m going to be part of that debate for probably the majority of my first term in the United States Senate. MADDOW: Congressman and senator-elect, Chris Murphy of Connecticut -- thank you for finding the time to talk to us tonight in the middle of all of this. Sir, I really appreciate it. MURPHY: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. Back in August, a white supremacist shot and killed four others in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The police chief of that town joins us in just a few minutes. Don`t miss this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: On a Sunday morning this last August, the suburban town of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, was devastated by a mass shooting at its Sikh temple. Last week, before the murders in Newtown, Connecticut, the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, chief of police attended a national conference about how to prevent mass shootings from happening. Chief John Edwards from Oak Creek joins us shortly. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, the White House called gun violence a complex problem that will require a complex solution. This afternoon, NBC News reports that President Obama met with White House staff, with Vice President Biden, and with cabinet members, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to talk about ways the nation and the administration could respond to the Newtown massacre. Yesterday, the president traveled to Newtown where he met with emergency responders and with the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims. Then, last night, the president addressed the nation from Newtown, at an inter-faith vigil held at a local high school. The president spoke just after 8:30 p.m. last night. The speech lasted about 18 minutes. Each of the big three networks broke into their normal programming last night to carry it, including NBC, which had to cut into the broadcast of "Sunday Night Football" to carry the speech. The president opened his speech by quoting Scripture. He paid tribute to the adults who were killed on Friday, trying to protect their students. And in the moment that will be remember for a long time, the president then slowly read out the names of each of the 20 children killed in the attack. The president also promised action, saying he would use, quote, "whatever power this office holds to work on building the kind of public policy that will prevent something like this from ever happening again." But even as President Obama was pledging to do whatever it takes to prevent another mass shooting, the president acknowledged last night how many mass shootings we have endured as a country. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Since I`ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings. Fourth time we`ve had survivors. The fourth time we`ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and in big cities all across America -- victims whose, much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We can`t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can`t be an excuse for an action. Surely, we can do better than this. If there`s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that`s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that -- then surely we have an obligation to try. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The president last night referencing not only his own experiences during his presidency, addressing a grieving nation after a mass shooting, but, also, the number of times that previous presidents have had to do that before him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) WILLIAM J. CLINTON, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT (May 20, 1999): You`re all left with searing memories and scars and unanswered questions. There has to be healing. There have to be answers. And for those things that will not heal or cannot be answered, you have to learn to go on with your lives. I hope you have been comforted by the caring not only of your neighbors, but of your country and people from all around the world. All America has looked and listened with shared grief and enormous affection and admiration for you. We have been learning along with you -- a lot about ourselves and our responsibilities as parents and citizens. GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT (April 17, 2007): It`s impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering. Those whose lives were taken did nothing to deserve their fate. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now they`re gone and they leave behind grieving families and grieving classmates and a grieving nation. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Mass shootings are not a new phenomenon in our country. But if it seems like the worst of them are happening more frequently these days, it`s because that`s true. Just over the course of the past four years, during the presidency of Barack Obama, before Newtown, there was also rural Alabama, where a man went on a shooting rampage in 2009 killing 10 people, including several of his own family members. In Binghamton, New York, where a gunman opened fired an immigration services center in 2009, killing 13 people. In Tucson, Arizona, last year, where then-Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was horrifically wounded and six people were killed. In Aurora, Colorado, this year, where 12 people were shot in a movie theater and 58 people were shot and injured. And, again, this year, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, six people gunned down at a temple. President Obama acknowledged that history yesterday in his address to the nation. From the site in the latest in a devastatingly long series of mass shootings that we have experienced in this country. In trying to console the country and make sense of what happened, the president has acknowledged that he has done this before and that other presidents have done this before him. We have all done this before. And is there anyway in which that can help? As a nation, we have a sickening amount of experience with mass shootings. And that is its own indictment of us as a nation. But is there anything from that horrible experience that can teach us how to try to handle it now that it has happened again. Is there anything from this long, awful, always unimaginable experience that we have as a country, that we should have learned from, that we should have learned how to stop this from happening by now? Joining us now is Chief John Edwards. He is the chief of police in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where four months ago six people were killed at a Sikh temple. Chief Edwards, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to have you here, sir. JOHN EDWARDS, OAK CREEK, WISCONSIN POLICE: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: With the nation`s eyes on Newtown now, with our national heartache for that town right now, I have to ask you how Oak Creek is doing and during your own version of this disaster and now four months down the road. EDWARDS: It brings back a lot of memories and things that we went through. Our Sikh temple in Oak Creek held a vigil last night, which was attended by many citizens of our city. And they put out candles for every victim in Newtown. I called there myself today and talked to some of the dispatch personnel, and talked about some of the things they went through and very similar to ours and left a message for the chief. I knew how busy he would be and what he`d be going through. So there`s no way I wanted to interrupt anything he`s doing. But it did bring back a lot of memories for a lot of people. MADDOW: One of the things that is under-appreciated sometimes in people trying to understand the trauma of this is how much of the trauma is born by the first responders, by not only the emergency medical personnel, but by people who think they go into a live shooter situation, in the case of Oak Creek, it was a live shooter situation. I know you have a lieutenant there who was are grievously wounded in the attack. Is there anything that you feel that you`ve learned in Oak Creek in terms of trying to manage the long-term impact on first responders in emergency personnel? EDWARDS: You have to get a handle on that immediately. You have to get take care of those individuals. I was in the hospital that night where my lieutenant was being operated on, and all the officers had come to the hospital. I looked in their eyes. You could see a lot of people were lost, didn`t know what to do, didn`t know what to think, and sometimes we put them aside and forget about them, and we should be -- you know, our efforts should be into them in fixing them and make sure that they get through this, because they`re going to go through some things for the rest of their life, and it`s going to scar them. Some officers have never recovered from things like this, but we have to help them get the information they need to get through it. They need to know that what they`re going through is normal and it`s a process, and there`s things that we can do to mitigate it and help them get through it, but everybody does it at their own pace and handles it differently. But we do need to deal with that. When they had to carry their lieutenant to a squad and rescue them, the affect that had on them, I can`t imagine what those first responders went through. In Newtown when they walked into those classrooms, I don`t even want to think about or try to picture it because I`ve seen enough similar situations and for it to be children would be just unimaginable. And I do know that the department of justice has great victim witness services, and they were on the ground very early, and I`m sure they were in Newtown helping those officers, first responders and the families. MADDOW: Chief Edwards, I know that just last week, right before the Newtown attack, you were taking part in a national summit set up by Homeland Security Department aimed at sharing ideas and trying to prevent these events but also dealing with them when they happen. Is there anything that you learned there at that national summit, anything that you saw the federal government doing or other communities doing that gave you cause for hope that interrupted what seemed to be this national pattern we have or getting better with coping with it when it does happen? EDWARDS: Absolutely, there`s hope. When we got together with it, there was a group of 25 to 30 people from all walks of different disciplines. We had professors, researchers, college faculty, K through 12, law enforcement, John Hopkins facilitated this, and what we did is sat down and brainstorm and talked about some of the prevention. What can we do to look for and indicators to try to stop these things. And after going through it, we found that the interdisciplinary things that we deal with, sometimes we look at things in our own little glass house where I might assess it as a law enforcement one way where a mental health professional might assess it in a different way or a school may look at it for a different reason. But we don`t share that information, and we need to start sharing that information and combining that information to look for and identify people that we can intervene with and get them the help they need before this happens. Unfortunately, when we talk about some of this, there are civil liberties involved, and we have to look at that. Those are some of the things we talked about, and we talked about do we want to have a news conference where there`s mass casualties, or do we want someone where they felt their mental health records were given up and people looked at them and they didn`t like that fact, but it might have saved lives. This also includes, as far as I`m concerned, military records. The individual in our case was a former military. So those records should be available. There may have to be some laws that are changed. There was really good brainstorm, there was really no politics involved, and we came up with some good ideas and recommendations. MADDOW: Chief John Edwards of the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, police -- you`re trying to turn your community`s experience and your own experience with this into something constructive that the nation could learn from, something we`re all grateful for. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it. EDWARDS: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. There`s a lot going on in politics news specifically that has not been getting its usual amount of coverage because of the ongoing story out of Newtown. We`ll bring you up to speed on some of those headlines, coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today`s news for obvious reasons was dominated by the one big story in the country, the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. But there are important news items to get to tonight we want to bring you up to speed. The first of those is the passing today of a genuine American hero, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. As long as the state of Hawaii has been a state, it has been represented in Congress by Daniel Inouye. But it Senator Inouye`s life before that, before his time in Congress, which is a life that reads like fiction and that earned him legendary status. Daniel Inouye was there at Pearl Harbor. After witnessing that attack on our country, he tried to serve the United States in the military. But not only was he told that he couldn`t, he was labeled an enemy alien by the United States government. Ultimately, even after that Dan Inouye did serve in the U.S. military and he served heroically. During a firefight against the Germans in 1945, Inouye was shot in the stomach. But even after being shot, he led his platoon against a nest of machine gunners that were perched on a ridge in Italy. During that attack, Inouye had his right arm shattered by German gunfire. He still managed to destroy the German encampment by snatching a grenade from that destroyed arm and throwing the grenade toward the enemy position, taking it out and earning himself in the process the Medal of Honor. Dan Inouye went on to become the highest ranking Asian American politician in U.S. history, the second longest serving senator in U.S. history, and at the time of his death, he was third in the line of succession behind the vice president and the speaker of the House. Senator Daniel Inouye`s office announced that he died of respirator complications at a Washington area hospital this afternoon. He was 88 years old. Second item you should know about in today`s news, outside of the news from Newtown, Connecticut, is what seems like the inevitability now that the next United States secretary of state is going to be Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry. NBC News has been able to confirm that Senator Kerry will be nominated for that job by President Obama likely sometime this week. Senator Kerry is not expected to face significant opposition in the Senate. If he does become secretary of state, that, of course, would mean a special election in Massachusetts for his senate seat. That has to happen 145 to 160 days after the seat becomes vacant. One of the names rising to the top of the list is a potential John Kerry replacement in the senate is Vicki Kenny. Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Asked by local news outlets whether she might be up for this job, a spokeswoman for Vicki Kennedy responded, quote, "We have no comment on this at this time." In other words, stay tuned. And, finally, another state that has just dealt with what Massachusetts is contemplating right now, the prospect of replacing a long- time senator, is the state of South Carolina. Today, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced she`s decided to fill Senator Jim DeMint`s soon vacated seat with current Republican Congressman Tim Scott. Tim Scott was elected to the House in the Tea Party wave in 2010, so he hasn`t been there long. He will be the first African- American senator of the state of South Carolina has ever had. He will be the first African-American senator from the South, period, since the post- Civil War/Reconstruction era. Big news stories like what happened in Connecticut, of course, tend to cast a shadow on all the other news out there, and understandably so, but there was lots of other news out there today. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END