Hardball | February 27, 2013
>>> u.s. senate held its much anticipated hearing on banning military assault weapons today. just as it's become apparent that public opinion has begun to shift on the matter. a new poll shows that 61% of americans want stricter gun laws . 3 out of 5 want it. that's up since january and shows the power of president obama 's campaign on this matter. today's hearing was unusually emotional with tears, applause, and one particularly heated exchange that came between senator lindsey graham who was acting inexplicably today and edward flynn . let's listen to this.
>> just for the record from my point of view, senator --
>> how many cases have you made --
>> it doesn't matter. it's a paper thing. i want to stop 76 -- i want to finish the answer.
>> well, no --
>> i want to stop 76,000 people from buying gunning illegally. that's what a background check does. if you think we're going to do paperwork prosecutions, you're wrong.
>> how many cases --
>> senator. if you would withhold just a moment, please.
>> that's fine.
>> please. no expressions one way or another. and let's keep this civil. senator graham and i just got recognized for civility. so i know he'll keep it civil.
>> wow. but the most searing most of the day came when the father of a sandy hook elementary victim jesse lewis testified. neil heslin delivered testimony as he recalled saying good-bye to his 6-year-old son not long before the shooting. about an hour before we lost him. take a listen.
>> i said good-bye, i love you. he stopped and he said i love mom too. that was the last i saw jesse . as he ducked around the corner. prior to that when he was getting out of the truck, he hugged me and held me. and i can still feel that hug and that pat on the back. he said everything will be okay, dad. it's all going to be okay. and it wasn't okay.
>> well, neil heslin joins us right now. thank you for joining us tonight.
>> thank you.
>> and i guess i have to ask you about your willingness i think as a public service not just an honor and love to your son but to the country. what would you like to see happen here?
>> i would like to see many changes happen that would work effectively to prevent this from ever happening again. any mass murder . i believe we had seven of them this year alone. that's far too many.
>> let me pick them off. do you think it would help to have a trained police officer in the hallways of these schools? i'll take the nra position at first. do you think that will be helpful?
>> i agree. i think it would be helpful. it's not going to settle -- solve the problem. it's not a solution to the whole problem in complete, completely.
>> we live in this country with so many guns. i think there are more guns in this country than people now. where do we start? do you think we should start with assault weapons that were used here? these semiautomatics, with the magazines where you can load up a gun with 30 bullets. where do we start?
>> well, i think there's many places that need to be addressed. my view is a key factor in all these mass murders or mass killings was a weapon and a high capacity magazine. so-called assault weapon or like assault weapon . i think it needs to start with a ban on the certain types of guns and weapons. secondly a ban on high capacity magazines which is a main characteristic of those guns that had been used. i think background checks should be mandatory. but done efficiently and effectively. not necessarily on a state level, but on a federal level . i think mental health is a big part, too, that should be addressed.
>> well, that covers the boardwalk there. let me ask you about this situation of coming down. how hard was it to come down?
>> it's not easy go anywhere or be some place and have to defend -- try to defend the reason my why things should change over my son's that's been killed in a massacre. it's very hard. it's very emotional. and i just keep reliving my loss, or the loss of jesse .
>> well, that'll go on, sir. i can assure you it's going to go on. i hope you keep up your courage you showed today. thank you so much. neil heslin, father of the lost jesse . thanks for coming on tonight. i hope it helps.
>> thank you very much.