The following is a transcript of an interview with Senator Chris Murphy on Sunday, May 29, 2022, on “Face the Nation.” The full transcript of the interview can be found below.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House declined our invitation for a member of the administration to come on the show today, saying they left it up to Congress to act. We are now joined by Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a Democrat who is leading bipartisan negotiations on gun reform in Congress, and he is joining us from Hartford, Connecticut. Senator, welcome to the program. You’ve said in some strong comments this week that, to use your word, you want to make incremental change when it comes to gun safety. You talk to Republicans about red flag laws, expanding background checks. Can you get ten Republicans to vote with you on either of these two measures?
SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: I think we can. I think something dies in the soul of this country if we refuse to act on a national level shooting after shooting. And I think there’s an opportunity now to pass on something important. I’ve seen more Republican interest in coming to the table and talking this time than at any other time since Sandy Hook. It’s true, you know, Republicans aren’t willing to support anything I support, like banning assault weapons. But I really think we can pass something that saves lives and break this block that we’ve had for 30 years, to prove to Republicans that if you vote to tighten the country’s gun laws, the sky won’t fall for you, politically. , in fact you will probably get a lot of new additional supporters. So the red flag laws are on the table. Background checks, expansion and on the table, as well as things like safe storage of weapons. I think we can get something done, but we don’t have much time.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You don’t. In those premise, do you also discuss some of what Governor Hutchinson just outlined as Republican priorities in your conversations with Republicans?
SEN. MURPHY: Listen, we’re looking for an old-fashioned compromise where we both tighten up the country’s gun laws to ensure that only law-abiding citizens get their hands on these very powerful weapons, but also invest in school safety and mental health. I mean, it’s true that we should have all the strategies above, and that’s ultimately the path to 60 votes. So, you know, I’m willing to, you know, vote for some of the things that harden our schools, which frankly makes me a little uncomfortable. If Republicans are willing to vote to tighten up the country’s gun laws in a way they weren’t willing to do before, that’s the nature of compromise. And I think parents in this country and kids right now desperately want us to do something. They’re scared, they’re scared. And we will only increase their fear if nothing more happens.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What about the limits for high-capacity magazines?
SEN. MURPHY: I think it’s unlikely we’ll get 60 votes for that. At this point, that’s a question that should probably be left to voters. It’s not an option. Maybe we’ll vote on that in the Senate, but I don’t see that with 60 votes. It falls into the category of things that I think would save lives. I’ve always said I’m not sure that shooter would have even walked into the school in Sandy Hook if he didn’t have an assault rifle and those high-capacity magazines. But I’m not sure we have the votes for that now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Murphy, stay with us, please. We will continue our conversation in this way. We will be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face the Nation. We would now like to continue our conversation with Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Senator, I want to go into the details of what you’re talking to your fellow senators. But I want to start with something else. I grew up in the town next to Sandy Hook. I know you represented that district when you were a congressman at the time of the shooting. You spoke quite passionately on the Senate floor this week about not only the victims, but the survivors and the PTSD that these little kids just walk into a classroom and remember walking over bodies. Can you talk about what this does to a community, to the first responders and to the survivors?
SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Especially in these smaller towns. I just think it’s important to understand how communities can’t come back from this because data shows that everyone who was murdered has 20 people who experience diagnosable trauma from that murder. But in these schools, every kid in Sandy Hook and you’ve heard those gunshots, they all know the kids who died, many of them in Sandy Hook had to walk over and around dead bodies. These are horrific, creepy stories. And, of course, the same can be said of neighborhoods like the one I live in at the southern end of Hartford. These are neighborhoods where children fear for their lives every day as they walk to and from school. Frankly, for many of these kids in urban neighborhoods, school is the safest place. Every day is a trauma because they fear for their lives. So we have to understand that we are giving today’s kids who are already living in an era of social media and pandemics a level of trauma and anxiety that makes it very difficult for them to learn when they are in school. I have two school-aged children. You have young children. And the idea that they have to worry about where they’re going to run in school if a shooter comes in instead of worrying about how they’re going to take a test that day. It only happens in America. And when a shooting like this happens in a neighborhood or a school, those communities never, ever recover. That’s just the reality.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for that. As for the details, how would your federal background check have stopped one of these two gunmen in Buffalo and in Texas? Neither of them had a criminal record. Neither had known any mental health issues. New York already had a red flag law that didn’t stop the gunman there in Buffalo. How would these proposals have stopped these cases?
SEN. MURPHY: So it was a… I just don’t fall into the trap of having to write a law for the latest mass shooting that caught the attention of the country. What I know is that on the same day of the shooting in Uvalde, 100 plus other people died in this country, and their mothers and fathers are grieving just as much as the parents in Uvalde. So by tightening the country’s background check data system, past data shows we will save thousands of lives. And yes, a federal red flag law like the one we’re talking about in these negotiations could certainly have helped in Texas. What we also know is that federal funding to help implement these laws, to let law enforcement know how to use them, can help in many states as well. So no law will save everyone, but there are many lives to be saved by the things on the table during these negotiations.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Senator, thank you for your time today.