Transcript: Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s response to the NRA’s call for armed guards at schools

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Partial transcript of Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s (D-Conn.) response to the National Rifle Association’s call for armed guards at schools in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The press briefing was held on Dec. 21, 2012. 

This has been a harrowing, horrific week in the state of Connecticut, culminating in today’s moment of silence at 9:30 a.m.

The end of a week when I spent a better part of the time meeting with first responders and families and going to funerals and wakes and speaking with ordinary people in Newtown and state of Connecticut.

And the refrain I have heard again and again and again from the people of Newtown and Connecticut and all around the country is: You need to do something about the guns.

The NRA statement today is sadly and shamefully inadequate, calling for more guns and rejecting real action against gun violence.

At a defining historic moment for our nation demanding courageous leadership, the NRA has declined to step forward as a credible and constructive partner.

The NRA’s proposal for more armed guards in schools may be helpful in some instances but it falls far short of the strong, serious, comprehensive action needed to stop the kind of horrific tragedy that occurred in Newtown last week.

Many of the State Police who spoke to me on that day a week ago said that the killer was so heavily armed that they doubted they could have stopped him with their armament that they ordinarily carry.

The American people are demanding real change and the NRA’s proposal fails to offer any real protection from violence.

NRA members in Connecticut and around the country are writing and calling me to say the NRA does not speak for them.

The Newtown tragedy was a call for action, and the NRA has failed to answer that call.

We need to do something about these guns, about the assault weapon of the kind that was used in the Newtown tragedy.

And I’m very proud to join in Sen. Feinstein’s bill that will help put a stop to the proliferations of these assault weapons that have no purpose but to kill and maim human beings.

We need to do something about the high-capacity magazines also used in the killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Better background checks – more of them so that the 40% now not covered as a result of the gun show loophole are in fact done, and when they’re done more comprehensively and effectively.

And other measures relating to mental health need to be part of this solution.

There is in fact no single simple solution. We need a dialogue among people who are committed to common sense, sensible solutions.

But the NRA will have to alter its approach if it is to be taken seriously in this national debate.

You know, I think that the NRA’s motives and mind may have been with the people in Newtown but it wasn’t much in evidence in the specific proposals made today. I don’t want to comment on the memories and warning of people in Newtown, which I am very respectful of. I think today is one of sadness for me, and I hope to honor the memories of those victims by what we do in the United States Congress because they – as much as anyone in this whole country, their families, their loved ones and friends – are calling for action.

A number of my – our colleagues – have come up to me in the wake of this tragedy, I think, genuinely grief-stricken, really affected by what they’ve seen and heard and feeling that we need real change. But America and the people of America are the ones who are going to make it happen by standing up and speaking out. I’m sometimes asked, “Well, how are you going to do it?” And it isn’t we – it is the American people who ultimately will convince the Congress that the time for real change is now.

You know, the NRA’s proposal for more armed guards in schools may seem like a good idea. But, in fact, as you’ve heard in the explanation afterward they’re contemplating volunteers – Watchdog Dads – which I think is problematic itself, raising concerns about safety, expertise, effectiveness.

So I think the American people are looking for real solutions – serious, comprehensive proposals – rather than what we heard today. And I think that opens an enormous opportunity for all of the means by which they can express themselves and fortunately we have more technology now and there is the opportunity for more contact and for influencing what comes out of this process and it might not be right away but it will happen eventually.

This debate is really only beginning. It’s only been a week since this horrific massacre in Newtown. The NRA today in its approach will be irrelevant because it can’t be a credible and constructive participant in this debate if it says the only acceptable solution is armed guards in schools. Better school security may be part of that solution but it also has to include a ban on assault weapons which have that kind of firepower that endangers everyone as well as the other measures that are sensible and common sense. And I think that Republican or Democrat, the key question is going to be making America safer and that will be the challenge. But ultimately I think, you know, the arc of this debate will swing toward strong, serious proposals because the American people will not stand by idly for another Newtown.

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