The Rachel Maddow Show | February 27, 2013
>>> last night on the show we talked to carlee and jillian and carlos matthew soto . their sister vicki soto was killed in the mass shooting in december while trying to protect the first graders in her class. when i asked vicki soto 's three siblings last night what one thing they would like to see done in our country after sandy hook , what one thing they would like to see congress do to try to prevent something like this from happening again that.
>> all had the same suggestion. if you could at least be the most persuasive you could possibly be to members of congress so they would change something, would what would you have them change?
>> i would probably be the assault weapon ban, just because no one needs those guns. this is no reason to have them unless you're military.
>> what do you guys think about that?
>> i agree.
>> the assault weapons ban is considered to be the least likely to pass of all the gun reforms currently being considered in washington. all of the certainty against such a ban exists, despite the fact that it's been done before in the '90s when they also said it couldn't be done. the old assault weapons ban expired about ten years ago. the new proposed assault weapons ban would have no expiration clause. today despite what everybody says about the long odds against it, today there were hearings on that bill in the senate judiciary committee . legal experts testified, mayors testified, law enforcement testified. but what we want to show you tonight is what one father had to say. his name is neil heslin. neil heslin. and his son jesse heslin was killed in the massacre at sandy hook . this is neil heslin.
>> i'm jesse lewis' dad. jesse was brutally murdered at sandy hook school december 14th . 20 minutes after i dropped him off. this picture is a picture that was taken when jesse was six months old. it was our first christmas together. the morning of december 14th , jesse stopped -- we stopped at misty veil deli, got his favorite sandwich, a sausage, egg and cheese and hard roll . and he ordered me one. he would always do that. i'd get a coffee and jesse would get what he called a coffee, but was a hot chocolate . we proceeded to the school. it was 9:04 when i dropped jesse off. the school clock, jesse gave me a hug and a kiss at that time, said goodbye, i love you. he stopped and he said "i love mom too." that was the last i saw of jesse as he ducked around the corner. it's hard for me to be here today to talk about my deceased son. i have to. i'm his voice. i'm not here for the sympathy and a pat on the back, as many people stated in the town of newtown . i'm here to speak up for my son. i defend the second amendment, and i want to see that upheld and regulated. and it hasn't been. when that was written almost 300 years ago, we didn't have these weapons we have today and the technology. they had muskets and cannons. i think it was 1934 when the ban was put on machine guns in regulation. we haven't had a mass killing with a machine gun since. i feel these assault -- so-called assault weapons that have certain characteristics should fall in that category and be banned. jesse was shot two times in the head. jesse , one bullet gazed his temple the side of his head. that wasn't the fatal shot. the fatal shot was in his forehead. it went in right at his hairline, exited directly behind that. jesse looked that cowarded a lanza in the eyes and saw his face at the end of that barrel. jesse didn't run. jesse didn't turn his back. that was the fatal shot that killed jesse .
>> i just want to thank you for your courage to be here in spite of how painful it is. and we're just trying here to do what we can do to save lives.
>> that was the senate judiciary committee hearing today on assault weapons ban that was introduced last month, a bill that beltway common wisdom says cannot pass, don't even bother. but after sandy hook elementary school , are things different now? are they different from the way politics and the national will were after columbine and after virginia tech and after tucson and after aurorer ra? they looked and sounded a little different in the senate judiciary committee hearing today.
>> and the simple blunt fact is that this issue was thought to be politically untouchable two months ago. we would not be here today without the horrific newtown tragedy. so i want to begin by asking my fellow citizens of connecticut, most particularly the members of the newtown community, sandy hook promise, the newtown action alliance, as well as the families who had victims, to please stand so that we can thank you publicly for your courage and your strength in this extraordinary historic moment. thank you.
>> let's give them a round of applause.
>> and the applause just kept going on. those people standing there that got the round of applause in the senate judiciary committee today, that is one of the most formidable groups of people you will ever see in politics, ever. they have the attention of their congress and their country, and soon we will see to what end. joining us now is jim johnson . he is baltimore county police chief. he is chair of the national law enforcement partnership to prevent gun violence . chief johnson, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
>> it's a pleasure being here.
>> it is hard to watch that testimony. it is -- it gets close to how we feel about this tragedy as a country. how do you think that we are changed as a country? and what do you think that we might do differently that we wouldn't do without this emotion?
>> certainly i think this nation is galvanized. we're all just sick over the circumstances in newtown and other cities and frankly, these incidents that occurred across america each and every day. we're focused on making a change here. and the national law enforcement partnership to prevent gun violence , along with legions of others are fighting to bring meaningful change that will stop this crisis. i'd say to that dad, that young boy that was taken, dad, the good guys are coming. and we're going to continue this fight we believe america is ready for change to stop this carnage on our streets and in our neighborhoods.
>> what do you think that the law enforcement community specifically can contribute to the debate and the argument over guns? what do you think the country needs to hear from chiefs of police and sheriffs and first responders?
>> what we're saying is let's go a background check on all people who buy guns. and we're telling the nation and we're telling our elected officials why that's necessary. real-life examples of why it's going to make a difference. we're telling our elected official let's put a ten-round cap on these magazines. and we're telling them why. because we've spent decades and years dealing with this problem. we're telling them the assault weapons ban must be put in place. and we're showing them examples of why it's necessary to do this. we're telling them collectively, based upon our experience and what we have seen, this will make a difference.
>> what about the argument that with 300 million guns already in the country, so many assault weapons already in the country, with so many extended magazines already in the country, banning them now, stopping the new supply of them now won't make a difference?
>> it will make a difference. certainly we know across america that since 1994 , for example, 2009 , nearly two million people tried to purchase weapons that were prohibited. we know that people will try to get these weapons as we go in the future, people that should not have these types of weapons. and we know that banning these assault weapons , putting a limit on the high capacity magazines, and let's do a national background check . my goodness, 74% of nra members are okay with this. 90%, virtually every study you see, over 90% of americans want a national background check . let's do something.
>> if there were a national background check system, do you have confidence as somebody who would be work with that system from the law enforcement side of things do, you is a the confidence we have the wherewithal to do that in a way that isn't unduly burdensome to people who are legally buying and selling weapons? can we do it in a way that can be efficient and proper?
>> we already have an effective system in place. and, in fact, over 90% of these background checks that take place occur in minutes. rachel, i can't write a traffic ticket in the time it takes to do a background check .
>> this is not inconvenience to our citizens. a private seller in the future under this new law if it passes, just goes to a gun shop , a licensed dealer and brings about the sale. this is not inconvenient to our citizens. and the payoff will be huge.
>> you expect that change is going to happen?
>> absolutely. i'm confident it will. and we're ready for change. the dads and moms of newtown , for our americans all across this great nation, we're ready for change. and law enforcement , i want everybody to know this. law enforcement stands behind these families that have suffered and certainly we know how to reduce this violent rage that is taking place in america .
>> chief jim johnson , baltimore county police chief, chair of the national law enforcement partnership to prevent gun violence . thank you so much for being here tonight. i really appreciate it.
>> thank you.
>> all right. we'll be right