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updated 12/17/2012 3:21:24 PM ET 2012-12-17T20:21:24

HARDBALL
December 14, 2012

Guests: Josh Weiner, Colin Goddard, Carolyn McCarthy, Larry Johnson

LT. PAUL VANCE, CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE SPOKESMAN: There was one person
that was injured that suffered an injury and did survive, yes.

QUESTION: Can you confirm...

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: I`m Chris Matthews and this is HARDBALL. We`re
watching the continuing coverage now on MSNBC of the Connecticut State
Police press conference.

QUESTION: What`s the shooter`s identity? (INAUDIBLE)

VANCE: Not going to confirm the identity of the shooter. We`re not
prepared to do that yet. So we have a tentative identification. We`re
still working with that. So we`re not going to confirm the identity and
put that out there. We will -- we will identify the shooter at an
appropriate time. Just for our investigatory purposes, it`s not
appropriate to do that right now.

Yes?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

VANCE: Again, it`s part and parcel of what we do. I told you initially
that we will leave no stone unturned as we`re looking at every facet of
this investigation, whether it`s the shooter, any of the victims. We`re
going to look at everything. And we certainly will go in and out of state
and we`ll work with fellow law enforcement, including federal agencies, if
we need to, to answer every single question to exactly what transpired
here. And we will -- it`ll be a time-consuming process but we`ll get it
done.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

VANCE: Right now, one shooter, yes, sir.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

VANCE: It was -- it was K through 4, kindergarten through 4th grade.
That`s the school.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

VANCE: They were all students of that school, sir.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

VANCE: I don`t know the grade they were in. I`m sorry. I don`t know
that.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

VANCE: One section, two classrooms.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

VANCE: I couldn`t tell you. I don`t know. I didn`t find that out. I`m
sorry.

Your question?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) Were there any students unaccounted for?

VANCE: No. Everyone has been -- and that`s part of -- that`s part of the
process, and that`s why it took us so long to get here. And that`s a very
good question. Are there any students that are unaccounted for?

We had to insure that we accounted for every single student in that school,
and that includes maybe someone that was absent for the day because of
illness and didn`t come to school. So that -- that was part of the process
that we had to go through.

And now we have the identification process, which is even more difficult.
And so it`s going to be some time before we`re able to give you that
information. It probably won`t be available until sometime tomorrow.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

VANCE: Did we identify a weapon? We have seized the weapon. Yes, we
have, sir.

QUESTION: What kind of weapon?

VANCE: We did not -- we will not discuss that at this time, sir.

QUESTION: Are you still trying to reach parents at this time?

VANCE: We`ve been in contact with all the parents. We would not come up
here until we`ve been in contact with all the parents. And we`ve been
communicating with them since they arrived here at the scene. They`ve been
fully informed. And that`s why it took -- again, why it took so long for
us to come up here.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

VANCE: That`s a very, very -- it`s a good question. Everyone believes
that, you know, it`s something that first responders do, that law
enforcement does. But I can tell you we provided counseling for the first
responders because this was a very tragic, horrific scene that they
encountered.

It`s not something that we want to see. It`s not something that we see
every day. So that was one -- that`s one thing that we have done, and the
colonel has made that perfectly clear that those people are to be spoken to
and receive crisis counseling as required.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) to be the face (INAUDIBLE) telling us here what`s
happening, but Newtown is a very quiet, beautiful place. And I`m sure this
is something that is not an ordinary thing you deal with, like big cities.

LT. GEORGE SINKO, CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE: I`ll take that.

VANCE: The lieutenant -- the lieutenant can certainly tell you. He`s a
Newtown officer.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

VANCE: Sure.

QUESTION: ... to see this tragedy of this magnitude. (INAUDIBLE) it has
impacted you personally, not only as a law enforcement officer, as a person
(INAUDIBLE)

SINKO: As a person, the first thing I thought about was my own children.

VANCE: Talk right in here.

QUESTION: Could you say your name please?

SINKO: Lieutenant George Sinko.

QUESTION: What`s your name?

QUESTION: What`s your name, please?

SINKO: Lieutenant George S-I-N-K-O.

QUESTION: Can tell you tell us -- (INAUDIBLE) is this the worst that you
have seen?

SINKO: This is most definitely the worst thing that we`ve had to
experience here in town, tragic. But right now, we`re concerned about the
families of the victims. Our officers are professional, and we will deal
with this, as well.

QUESTION: Can you describe the scene with the parents? Is there a place
where people are getting together? And are there counselors there for
them? What`s happening (INAUDIBLE)

SINKO: The local hospital, Danbury Hospital, has offered their crisis
intervention counselors. They will be available at Reed (ph) Intermediate
School, which is on Wasserman Way, and they`re available right now, if need
be, and they will be there all weekend.

QUESTION: Is there a place where parents are gathering? I mean, and
what`s that -- can you describe that?

SINKO: The parents certainly have gathered at the local firehouse, which
is adjacent to the school. And we`ve done our best to comfort them and try
to reassure them that we`ve done everything we can. But as mentioned, it`s
a difficult process to confirm the status of an entire elementary school,
and we need to be right when we do that.

QUESTION: Lieutenant, what is...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

SINKO: It`s healing. We just have to think about the families right now
and do everything we can for them.

QUESTION: Lieutenant, was one of the teachers killed the shooter`s mom?

SINKO: We can`t confirm any of that right now. The investigation is
ongoing.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

SINKO: There are still parents there, yes. I don`t have a number for you.
I don`t have a number for you. OK.

QUESTION: When did you realize (INAUDIBLE) what the magnitude (INAUDIBLE)
how long did it take you to realize the magnitude (INAUDIBLE)

SINKO: Minutes after our officers were there, they realized, you know,
what a horrific scene we had there.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

SINKO: I don`t have the exact timeline on that. Certainly, officers
responded immediately, and as soon as they realized what they had, we
obviously asked for all the resources we could get. All right? Thank you.
Anything, Paul?

VANCE: I think we`re good.

SINKO: Thank you.

VANCE: Let me just finish this. All right, what we`re going to do is
we`ll come back about -- just before 6:00 o`clock because I know a lot of
you are on at 6:00. We`ll get back with one more briefing, and then what
we`ll do is we`ll schedule briefings probably tomorrow. So some of you
folks look very tired. And sure you want to go get a little rest. So
we`re going to see if we can give you a schedule of briefings for tomorrow.
OK?

MATTHEWS: Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Tonight, we
have an hour to get on top of this horrific tragedy in Connecticut, to get
our heads around it. To understand why it happened, how things like this
happen will take, of course, much longer.

But let`s get to it. We`ve got Chris Jansing on the scene in Newtown,
Connecticut, NBC justice correspondent Pete Williams here in Washington.
We`ve got Clint Van Zandt, former FBI profiler and NBC analyst with me in
the studio. NBC White House correspondent Kris Welker is also with us.
And U.S. congressman Carolyn McCarthy, who entered politics after her
husband was killed in a multiple shooting on a suburban commuter train. We
also have Larry Johnson (ph), the president of the National Association of
School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials.

First we go for an immediate update to my MSNBC colleague, Chris Jansing.
Chris, I know you have arrived on the site in Newtown, Connecticut. What`s
the latest?

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well, there was just a briefing by officials
here, and it is obviously the most devastating of news. As they describe
it, this has been a scene of absolute horror. In fact, they have moved the
press away from the school, here to a community area. And the parents are
still gathering at the nearby fire station.

The problem is the scene itself, which will be an active crime scene,
Chris, for at least until Sunday because the scene is described as so
horrific that the identification process is very difficult.

What we do know, of course, is what we`ve been reporting for most of the
last couple of hours, which is that 26 people were shot inside that
elementary school, with students age 5 to 10, 20 of the victims being
children. The shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, his mother a kindergarten
teacher at that school.

I can tell you that I have been to any number of mass shootings. There is
a heaviness here that is almost indescribable. It is so hard to the even
figure out why anyone would go after children, such innocent young
children.

And this community is absolutely in shock. I was driving in and I saw
beautiful houses in this normally bucolic Connecticut town, decorated with
Christmas lights. And at one point I glanced over at a car next to me.
There was a man driving who looked visibly upset, and the woman in the
passenger seat was crying. There are going to be many tears that are shed
here as people try to figure out exactly why this happened.

But for right now, police are saying that they`re being very careful,
because of the nature of this crime, about how much they say, how much they
identify. Again, in addition to those 26 people, the gunmen killed
himself, and there is a victim at a second location, another person found
dead at another location.

So that is the latest from here. They have been giving us regular updates,
and, of course, we will have them for you as we get them, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Chris Jansing, we`ll be back to you throughout the hour.

And for more on the shooter in this Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting
tragedy, we go to NBC analyst and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt.
Also with us, by the way -- we`re fortunate to have him -- psychiatrist
Josh Weiner. Thank you both, gentlemen.

Let`s start with the profile thing here. A mass shooter using
semiautomatic weapons, apparently, the kind of weapons you can just shoot,
shoot, shoot. Shot -- apparently shot himself.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FMR. FBI PROFILER, NBC ANALYST: That`s what Chris just
told us. And again, we see these things repeat, repeat, repeat. Now,
Chris, as you know, we have about 20 mass shootings in the United States
every year, as horrific as that is.

We also see somewhat of a copycat. Remember, we had Virginia Tech, Cho,
the shooter, in April 2007, two semiautomatic pistols that he used, the
shooting that took place in Aurora, Colorado, in a movie theater,
individual dressed in all black clothing, the shooting that took place
earlier this week in Portland, Oregon, shooter dressed in all black with a
semiautomatic weapon.

Today we`re told the shooter, one more time, dressed in black, maybe with a
load-bearing vest that would allow him to carry more magazines.

Chris, you know, part of what we got to get into is, do these guys see
themselves as some type of commando or something?

MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s what I`m thinking.

VAN ZANDT: What commando goes after kids, goes after little kids? And
as...

MATTHEWS: Does that lend some kind of moral authority to their horrific
actions, the wearing of a uniform of some kind?

VAN ZANDT: It may go along with some type of fantasy that we have. You
know, you said wrap your arms around it, and I`ve been trying to do that
all day. How can anyone in their right mind or wrong mind justify the
killing of children and...

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go to profile questions. The person shows up with two
semiautomatic pistols that have what, 15 rounds in them each?

VAN ZANDT: Fifteen rounds, plus one in the chamber.

MATTHEWS: So they`re ready to shoot a lot of people.

VAN ZANDT: Yes.

MATTHEWS: So it`s hard to believe that one thing led to another. The
initial intent was to do a lot of horror.

VAN ZANDT: Do -- and when we`re told over 100 rounds have been fired, do
the math. That means about four or five magazines per weapon that he had
to carry. So he would just dump one, reload, and keep on firing.

MATTHEWS: Is that hard to do? Does the weapon get hot?

VAN ZANDT: No, no.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: A Glock can be reloaded.

VAN ZANDT: If you`re practicing, you put 15, 16 rounds, you dump the
magazine, you put a new one up, and you go again. It can take two seconds
and you`re ready to go again.

MATTHEWS: To add to the horror in this discussion, it`s always going to be
there in our minds, but these kids were watching this guy do it to them.

VAN ZANDT: They watched him. And then the question comes, Why did he
shoot the children? Well, realize, this guy committed an act of matricide.
He killed his own mother. I`ve been involved in situations as an FBI agent
where that has happened. If you do that, you`re capable of doing anything.

MATTHEWS: There`s no God in your life after that. There`s no limit to
what you`ll do that`s evil at that point.

VAN ZANDT: What did his mother do, though, Chris? She was a kindergarten
teacher. She had children that loved her and she loved them. When this
guy came in -- and I don`t want to go Freudian on us, but when he came in,
when he shot his mother and turned on those children, those children were
part of his mother and she was part of them. He killed what his mother
loved.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

VAN ZANDT: He killed what that school appreciated, and he killed them.

MATTHEWS: And what his mother was paying attention to, the people in those
rooms were the mother`s trusts, and she obviously cared for those kids.
This -- I don`t know, I`m not a psychiatrist. You`re a psychiatrist.

JOSH WEINER, PSYCHIATRIST: Right. And even as a psychiatrist, it`s so
hard to know why people do some of these horrific things. But I do think
that what Clint said at the end there is what I agree with, which is that
perhaps this guy was going after his mom and he wanted to wipe out
everything that she cared about.

So he may have known over the years just how much she loved these kids. So
as an extension of her, he could kill these kids and that would really be a
way to get back at his mother.

I also think that some people, they want to do these things because they
want to be recognized on a grand stage. And by going in and just shooting
your mother, even if it were in a school, that doesn`t get the attention
that this gets because we have so many school children, innocent victims,
who have been killed. And I think that that makes him maybe feel like he`s
special.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go back. We have -- I don`t want to get beyond the
facts, but here`s a guy where you got 28 people dead right now, one at
another scene. We don`t know what that`s about. His father is still
alive. This is about his mother. She`s teaching kids 4 to --
kindergarten, K to 4 as we say.

He goes in during the class day. He goes in (INAUDIBLE) He apparently
shoots a bunch of the administrators of the school on his way in. So it
was during school time. He obviously thought about it last night. He went
to work this morning, and he went to this horrible situation.

My question about this whole thing is, is suicide part of this pact this
person makes with himself? Because it seems like no other reason except
that he planned to do it.

VAN ZANDT: We see suicide -- from the profiling standpoint, I see suicide
so much because it`s my belief the individual just doesn`t want to be held
responsible. There may be part of him that realizes, I`ve done this
horrific act, I deserve to die.

But when I see people kill themselves in a situation like that, I believe
they`re trying to remove themselves and the scrutiny of themselves and
their actions from the public. They`ve taken that away from us. They
don`t allow us to look at that. They take that secret to the grave.

MATTHEWS: And they don`t want to be captive to us afterwards.

Anyway, we`ll be right back. Thank you, Josh. We`ll be right -- Josh
Weiner will be back with Clint Van Zandt, as well. They`re both going to
be staying with us throughout the hour as we check back and forth from what
we`re trying to figure out in terms of profile and also gathering every
minute of the next hour all the news coverage about this horrific shooting
at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The teacher told us to all go where our library is and
that`s -- and get behind something, so nobody -- since there`s a window in
the door, nobody would see -- the guy wouldn`t see us. And I heard that
the guy was trying -- wanted to kill everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve endured too many of
these tragedies in the past few years, and each time I learn the news, I
react not as a president but as anybody else would, as a parent. And that
was especially true today.

I know there`s not a parent in America who doesn`t feel the same
overwhelming grief that I do. The majority of those who died today were
children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.

They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations,
weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and
women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: We`re back to HARDBALL. You know, we`ve often said our
president is a cool customer, and he wasn`t there. There`s a father
talking there.

VAN ZANDT: You see the tear in the eye, and we all share that tear.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Lester Holt, my colleague on NBC, was doing the same
today. These guys with young kids, and I guess everybody -- all our
producers here have shown the same kind of emotional reaction, I think.

Let`s talk about the kids today. They`re going home tonight. I want to
get ahead of this story just a minute tonight. These kids have parents.
Their parents are worried. They`re sitting with the kids. What should
they do with their kids who`ve survived?

WEINER: The kids who have survived...

MATTHEWS: From that school?

WEINER: ... from this school, I think they need to talk to them about
everything that the child brings up.

You want to ask them every detail, every question. You do still want to be
able to provide some reassurance. You do not want to be judgmental in any
way. Any emotion that your child is experiencing is an acceptable emotion.
You want to obviously show them how much you love them. You want to talk
to them about how this is such a rare event and that this is not going to
happen again to them, that they need to be able to eventually go back to
school.

This is going to take a while for them to feel better, that they can expect
that, for a little while, a week, several days, the kids are going to have
some difficulties potentially, things like feeling really clingy to their
parents, not wanting to sleep alone, having nightmares. These are all
things that I think the parents need to tell their kids, and in particular
I think the parents need to be on high alert for the potential for this to
develop into a post-traumatic stress disorder.

In general, it doesn`t matter whether you`re talking about a war or a
hurricane. In general, about 15 percent of the population is vulnerable to
developing post-traumatic stress disorder. So if you`re seeing your child
continuing to suffer for longer than a week or two weeks, and it`s starting
to really interfere with their functioning, you need to go and get some
professional help for your child.

MATTHEWS: The oldest question in the world from the one time I was in
grade school, should you call if you`re a fellow parent with consolation
tonight? Should you call the parent of someone who was killed today
tonight?

WEINER: Absolutely. I think that`s just the humane thing to do.

MATTHEWS: Don`t put it off out of sensitivity?

WEINER: No, no, just call them. And, quite honestly, the parents aren`t
going to be picking up the phones. They have got other things they`re
going to dealing with.

I think you just leave a message on their voice-mail letting them know how
hurt you are and how this is such a tragedy for everybody and that you`re
there to help them if there`s anything they could possibly need from you.

MATTHEWS: These kids are going to have an amazing memory scorched into
them, especially the ones who were grabbed by their teachers and hauled off
into a room to protect them from the gunshots.

We had a young boy talking earlier today about watching 10 gunshots whiz by
him and his memory was clear enough to say they came right to left. It was
like a police report we`re getting from this little kid. Should parents
ask their kids about the details of the horror that they witnessed?

WEINER: I think that the parents need to take the lead from their
children. So if their kids want to tell them this, I think it`s fine. I
think the parents can ask some questions, but allow the child to be the one
who is directing the conversation for the most part and be available for
that child over the course of several days. Continue to ask them if
there`s anything they want to talk about.

But I don`t think it`s necessarily the parents` responsibility nor is it in
their child`s best interest for the parent to dictate how often their child
talks about it. Everybody processes these things somewhat differently, and
you need to specifically pay attention to your own child and their own
needs.

MATTHEWS: You said to tell the young children -- and they were children
here, K-4 -- fourth grade -- that it`s not going to happen again. Is that
something you can say reliably to a kid?

WEINER: Well, of course you...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I know the odds are overwhelming.

WEINER: Right.

MATTHEWS: But is it something you can honestly say with the moral
authority of a parent?

WEINER: That`s the right thing to do, in my opinion, is to tell them,
because kids at that age they don`t understand probabilities. They`re not
sophisticated adults who will understand the likelihood of this happening
is one in a million.

MATTHEWS: Right.

WEINER: That doesn`t mean much to them. You need to be very direct and
you need to make them feel secure. You as a parent obviously know that
there`s always a possibility for risk and danger.

MATTHEWS: As a professional in United States law enforcement, what comes
to your mind when you watch -- we have talked about these every time they
happen, whether it`s Aurora or Columbine.

VAN ZANDT: Yes.

MATTHEWS: What is the key problem? Is it mental illness and the fact
that, as my nephew called up earlier tonight, said, there`s 60 million
people have been on this -- it`s just the reality that comes with being a
person.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN ZANDT: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Some people have defects. It just doesn`t -- we`re all God-made
and some have defects, born with them.

Or is it gun control? Or is it both? What comes to your mind?

VAN ZANDT: Well, what comes do my mind is that, for example, I don`t want
to see Congress come in with a quick fix. Let`s have an assault weapons
ban, let`s do away with extended magazines; 310 million Americans, 280
million guns. People are going to get guns.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But that Glock is easy -- and the Glock is easy to get.

VAN ZANDT: A Glock and Sig Sauer, two most popular weapons, you can buy
them anywhere, you can get them anywhere. Cops carry them, crooks carry
them. Everybody has got them.

To me, it`s going to have to be a combination. We are going to have to
deal with the mental health issue. We are going to have to deal with the
firearms issue, and people are going to need some help in getting conflict
resolution skills and realize just because your life turns to crap doesn`t
mean you have to take it out on somebody else, and we need to help that
thought process.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I like the way you put it together. I think it`s
complicated and the best we can do is reduce the numbers. We`re never
going to eliminate horror in this life of ours.

VAN ZANDT: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Clint Van Zandt. You will be back, I think.

And Josh Weiner, I love listening to you.

WEINER: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: We will be right back on the ground with our ground coverage of
this tragic shooting up at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which will always
be known for this, unfortunately, and in Newtown, Connecticut, a town, a
regular town that people go to for good changes and for the green grass and
a nice way to raise your kids, were struck by horror today.

We will be right back with more and HARDBALL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they were leaving the school, the state troopers
and, you know, the FBI or whoever was there, they were telling all the
children to hold hands and close their eyes until they were outside.

So, I mean, obviously, what they might -- what was in there, it must have
been very gruesome. And my sister said she -- what she saw was just police
everywhere, police with guns in every corner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

NBC`s Kristen Welker is live at the White House, where we just saw a very
emotional President Obama this afternoon.

Let`s get a bit more from his remarks right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This evening, Michelle and I
will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our
children a little tighter, and we will tell them that we love them, and we
will remind each other how deeply we love one another.

But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight and they
need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, the community needs us
to be at our best as Americans, and I will do everything in my power as
president to help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Kristen Welker, thank you, my colleague from the White
House.

You know, the -- I think what we call the operative sentence or words in
this speech today, and wonderfully emotional and so personal as a father,
was meaningful action. What`s the take on that, the takeaway from the
president saying meaningful action to prevent this from happening again?

KRISTEN WELKER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, I think that it`s a sign
that the president was as defiant and angry in some senses as he was
emotional this afternoon.

He made the point that we have seen too many of these mass shootings in our
communities, so President Obama making that point it`s time to take
meaningful action regardless of the politics, clearly a reference to
stiffer gun legislation. We don`t know specifically what he meant.

We will, of course, be asking the White House about that in the coming days
and weeks. I can tell you that in past speeches President Obama has talked
about the need to have better background checks to keep weapons out of the
hands of people who are mentally unstable and to also have better
preventative measures to make sure that those who are mentally unstable are
getting the care that they need.

What`s interesting, Chris, is that earlier today, White House Press
Secretary Jay Carney during his daily briefing made the point that today is
not the day to talk about policy. Today is the day to focus on the
victims.

I can tell you that in the past hour, an impromptu vigil has all started to
form outside of the White House, and some of the people at that vigil,
which includes a couple hundred people, have started to chant "Today is the
day." So people already gathering outside of the White House and taking
issue with Carney`s comments that today is not the day to talk about
stiffer gun legislation.

This debate will clearly be reopened in the coming days as this nation
begins to process what has happened in Connecticut, but the president
clearly very emotional today making it clear that Connecticut`s tragedy is
the nation`s tragedy. He reached out to Governor Dannel Malloy, not only
to offer his condolences, but also to offer the full support and weight of
the federal government as that community begins to cope with and heal in
the wake of this unspeakable tragedy, Chris.

I should also tell you that the flag here at the White House and throughout
federal buildings here in Washington, D.C., are flying at half-staff.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Kristen Welker from the White House.

We will be right back with continuing coverage of this tragic shooting up
in Newtown, Connecticut.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was out in the hall when like everybody heard
the bullets...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... they like went into a total panic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: As a country, we have been through this too many times, whether it
is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a
temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in
Chicago. These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are
our children.

And we`re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to
prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Meaningful action.

Well, today`s tragedy in Connecticut brings the issue of guns to the
forefront of American`s minds tonight, and President Obama pledged to take
that meaningful action at his White House statement earlier this afternoon.

With me are two people with personal experience with gun violence. U.S.
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of course of New York lost her husband in a
1993 mass shooting on that commuter train. And Colin Goddard is a survivor
of the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. He now works for the Brady
Campaign.

By the way, we called the NRA, the National Rifle Association, today,
hoping to get someone from that organization on tonight. They said they`re
not commenting until more information is thoroughly known in this case.
So, they`re putting off any kind of comment. It`s obvious.

Congresswoman, thank you so much for coming on.

I know this must bring back -- it brings it all back. But I thought it was
great. I said this after. We have got to get Carolyn McCarthy, because
her reason to be in public life, to take on the voter, to deal with the
public life issues was this issue of the horror that hit your husband.

REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: And it was.

And, you know, it`s not funny, but, I mean, yesterday in my office we sat
down to plan what we were going to do for the next term, and I said,
listen, I came here in to Congress to reduce gun violence. And I said I
want to make sure that we go full forward. We have to do something about
it.

You know, the president`s words meant a lot to me today, because his tone
was different. We have to take this head on. And I know that the White
House had said earlier that this was not a time to talk about gun violence,
and you know what? They`re right. It should have been years ago, so
hopefully we wouldn`t have had to go through this.

There are things we can do to reduce gun violence. There are things we can
do to hopefully cut down the amount of killings, but my heart goes out to
the families and for those that lost their loved ones.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MCCARTHY: I mean, here we have the holidays. This is when the Christmas
tree is up, the Hanukkah lights are lit. Children shouldn`t have to worry
about going to school and facing these kind of tragedies, but my heart
breaks for the survivors and for the parents, because I know what they`re
going to go through, and I know that I will be lighting another candle
tonight for all these families and praying for them.

But the conversation has to go forward.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, I remember when Bobby Kennedy was killed by a
guy carrying a pistol out in Los Angeles, and Johnny Carson, who we all
liked on those days, and said I have never asked the people to ever do
anything like this, but write your congressman. So I dutifully wrote my
congressman, but I have noticed -- about gun control -- but I have noticed
over the years that the people who care about reasonable gun control,
reasonable gun control, get concerned when an emotional horror like this
occurs.

And then a couple weeks pass, and the NRA comes back to its fund-raising,
and then the only people interested in guns are those who want to protect
their right to carry them and the people concerned with the gun horrors
that we`re talking about here today lose interest. How do you sustain a
balanced look at gun control and gun ownership in this society?

MCCARTHY: Well, I think because we have to keep that message out there all
the time and not wait for a tragedy like this that happened. Excuse me.

You know, when you think about it, a couple weeks ago, we had a shooting
with an NFL player. One of the commentators -- I mean, he couldn`t believe
the hate mail he got. He couldn`t believe how people came down after him.

Well, that`s why people are afraid to speak out. They`re afraid of the
NRA. They`re afraid of the large lobbyists and that`s the same thing,
Chris, as members of Congress,whether they`re Republican or Democrat. You
see that, that they cow behind and not get anything done instead of
standing up.

They`re afraid they`re going to lose their next election.

MATTHEWS: I know.

MCCARTHY: If we can save a whole bunch of lives, isn`t that what we`re
supposed to be in Congress for? It`s not to do...

MATTHEWS: I understand that.

MCCARTHY: It`s not taking away the right of someone to own a gun.

MATTHEWS: You can`t be elected to the United States Senate from
Pennsylvania unless you`re for gun rights totally, 100 percent. I just
know the facts. And I know that`s true in Ohio and Michigan, states like
that.

We have got another person here.

Colin, thank you for joining us.

This -- you were at Virginia Tech. You were a survivor down there and I`m
glad you were. Here you are. But a lot of people in the gun ownership
side, the Second Amendment people, who are zealots, say if a bunch of
people have guns, they could shoot this guy down when he walked in the
door. They will say that. I can imagine what we will be heard in the days
ahead. If some of those school officials had been armed, they could have
stopped him before he got to the kids. You will be hearing it, that
argument.

Your thoughts on that?

COLIN GODDARD, BRADY CAMPAIGN: Right. You will be hearing it, but I don`t
quite understand it.

We are the most armed country in the modern world, and we have the most
problems with gun violence, you know? I mean, if more guns solved our
problems, then we`d be the safest country already. That`s not it. You
know?

I mean, the conversation that we`re having now, the conversation that the
vast majority of Americans are having is the reasonable middle ground, you
know? Is the background checks on all gun sales, that`s something gun
owners and NRA members support themselves. You know, it`s the leadership
that has this absolute extremist approach.

But the membership, the real American people, understand that a background
check is not going to stop them from owning a gun, so they can support
that.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: But what happens, just to be argumentative, these
were two Glocks, semiautomatic weapons --

GODDARD: And a Bushmaster.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Could you stop a person from getting access to those kinds
of weapons if they broke mentally? They weren`t crazy to use a common term
when they bought the guns or they got them from somebody else who got them
legally who was of sound mind. How do you stop the easy transfer of
weaponry in this country?

GODDARD: Well, background check.

MATTHEWS: But the laws don`t control an easy transfer. You can sell it to
a friend. You can lend it to a friend. You can steal it from a friend.

GODDARD: Right, Chris. There`s not one thing that`s going to stop all
shootings. That`s just unreasonable.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

GODDARD: But we`re talking about -- and we can`t always have the
conversation about how can we prevent the last shooting that just happened.
We need to be talking about the eight kids that die tomorrow, the 32 of us
--

MATTHEWS: Tell me about the Bushmaster as a weapon. What are the laws on
getting one?

GODDARD: That`s a gun that wasn`t sold in our stores in 2004.

MATTHEWS: Describe it. Describe it.

GODDARD: It`s a high powered military weapon. You know, that`s something
--

MATTHEWS: A rifle.

GODDARD: -- that was used in war zones. Yes, it`s pretty gnarly.

MATTHEWS: It`s semiautomatic.

GODDARD: Most guns are semiautomatic nowadays. Look, it has no place in
our society. And I think the vast majority of people, of gun owners
realize that. That`s not going to stop people from hunting or defending
themselves, but it will stop somebody from being able to walk into a
classroom of kids and kill his mom --

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Congressman McCarthy. I think you must have
watched the president today when he did speak with such emotion. He`s
honestly -- he`s such a cool guy. We know that. It`s a nonpartisan
assessment. He`s a cool guy.

And yet today, he had to stop himself for almost a minute before he could
continue talking. I think he was overwhelmed by the message he had to
deliver in front of all those cameras, which is, we`ve just been struck
again by one of our own. One of our own has killed 28 people that are dead
today, that would have been alive -- that would have been alive tonight
having dinner and enjoying Friday night -- it`s a fact -- being with their
families.

And he had to say that to the country, that this is a nationally important
issue. How do you get across the fact that this isn`t just the kind of
thing that has to happen? It`s the kind of thing that might not happen if
you do the right thing as politicians, including the president.

REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: Well, I would say to the president,
there are politicians out there. You have the Brady Center that`s been
working on this for years. Go to Mayor Bloomberg and get the 700 mayors
that are trying to make a difference to reduce gun violence.

And I agree with my colleague that, you know, it`s not one thing that`s
going to stop all these kind of shootings. We`re talking about going over
the financial cliff. We have colleagues talking about making drastic cuts
to mental health. Our states right now have closed their doors to young
adolescents and to people that need counseling because they have anger.

So, I mean, these programs all have to be put in together. That`s who we
as a society and we as politicians should be doing. But I have to say, I
do agree with the president today.

It doesn`t matter whether you`re a Republican or a Democrat -- I know an
awful lot of NRA members that agree on the background checks.

I agree that when we passed legislation after Virginia Tech. But we
haven`t had it fully funded, where in the courts anybody who has been
adjudicated to be mentally ill has a domestic violence or a felon, they
should not be allowed to have guns, but they`re sitting in a courtroom
somewhere because we cannot computerize them because they don`t have the
money to do it.

So it`s a whole bunch of things that we can do. But all groups should come
together.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

MCCARTHY: And the NRA should be working with us to try to reduce gun
violence in this country.

MATTHEWS: Because it`s interesting, the NRA is very good at training
people how to use weapons. They do care about gun safety at a certain
level. And they have to understand, I think, without becoming a crusader
on this, although maybe we all should, that it isn`t a slippery slope, if
you say crazy people shouldn`t have guns.

Anyway, thank you so much, Carolyn McCarthy. Thank you, U.S. Congresswoman
Carolyn McCarthy of New York state, and Collin Goddard, thank you for
coming tonight.

We`ll be right back.

This is HARDBALL with continuing coverage on the shooting at Sandy Hook
Elementary School up in Connecticut.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

As we try to comprehend the tragic mass shooting at that Connecticut
elementary school today, the question remains can students at school ever
feel 100 percent safe?

Joining me now is Larry Johnson, president of the National Association of
School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials.

Well, that`s a great question. Here`s a guy apparently today -- we don`t
have all the details -- walked into a school carrying an assault rifle, a
couple of Glocks, with a lot of magazines to rearm himself.

How do you stop a guy? Apparently nobody stopped him. Nobody could stop
him. He shot everybody that got in his way.

LARRY JOHNSON, SCHOOL SAFETY & LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL: Well, this is a
very difficult situation to assess without knowing all the details in terms
of what occurred in that community. But, you know, our parents in our
communities have to stay ever so vigilant and just continue to work with
law enforcement, continue to work with the schools and put training and
practices in place that we would hope would prevent this.

We thought we were there. Unfortunately, we`re not, and we`ve got a lot of
work to do.

MATTHEWS: What`s the normal practice in a school of say not a high crime
area but a regular school. This is a nice neighborhood, for example. It
isn`t a crime neighborhood. Where you have -- do you have a metal
detector? You wouldn`t have a metal detector for an elementary school.

What provision do you have for safety in a school like this?

JOHNSON: Well, depending on the area of the country you`re in, each
community, each school district have different practices and procedures
that they use.

Fortunately, all of our schools have been practicing lockdown drills,
school safety drills, practicing the locking of doors -- there`s been some
very important components that school districts have been engaged in around
the country that have been working in keeping kids safe.

I want to reiterate that. Kids are, I think, safe in school.
Unfortunately, we have tragedies like this that occurred today. But for
the most part, kids are safe in school.

MATTHEWS: How is it different from Columbine when we had that first, big
school tragedy where kids come in and killed a lot of people, students?
This time, it was an adult that went in there, a young adult, and shot a
number of -- a school administrator, shot a teacher, his mother and then
went onto basically shoot a lot of young, kindergarten kids.

I mean, I go back to that question. What`s between that killer, that
potential shooter and the victims next Monday morning in every school in
America? What`s between that killer and the students?

JOHNSON: Well, the only thing that stands between the person who is prone
to commit targeted violence inside a school is the school administrator.
Hopefully, some of these schools have school resource officers, school
security officers in place.

What we have to do is, hopefully, it`s the hardware, the hardware that we
have is something that can deflect some of the things that young people or
individuals who`s prone to commit violence inside a school would want to
do.

We live in tough times. And in tough times, we just have to be a little
bit more vigilant in how we protect our young people in schools.

MATTHEWS: OK, should the administrators be armed in schools? Should they
have access to a weapon if they need one in a situation like this? Should
they have access to one in some vault or closet or whatever?

JOHNSON: No, I`m going to say no. Absolutely not. School administrators
are there to teach, to guide our young people. And I don`t think we need
to begin to Monday morning quarterback any situation and say let`s arm up
all the school administrators across the country.

MATTHEWS: OK.

JOHNSON: I don`t think that`s the answer.

MATTHEWS: OK, Larry. Thank you, Mr. Johnson. You`re president of the
National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials. I
know you`re worried about this all the time.

And, by the way, you`re watching HARDBALL now with our continuing coverage
of the tragic shooting up in Newtown, Connecticut. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL`s coverage.

Well, Chris Jansing is back with us live from Newtown.

Chris, thank you.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Chris. We are waiting for
an update at the top of the hour. We are told that the governor will be
coming here with the latest information.

He has been inside a local fire house which is not far from where I`m
standing, talking to some of the parents who have been dealt the biggest
blow of their lives to be told that their children will not be coming out
of their elementary school alive. The governor is saying earlier today
that you can never be prepared for something like this.

And, surely, that says it all. Everyone trying to figure out why this
young man whose mother was a teacher at this school would have gone in and
opened fire and killed 20 young students, ages 5 to 10.

We also know that there was security at that school. And, in fact, I`m
told that it was instituted by the principal who is another of the adult
victims here. The question is, what -- how this young man gained access.
It is being speculated that it`s just possible because he was the son of a
teacher, it would not have been difficult for him.

And as the community is in shock, they are coming together tonight. There
are at least three local churches that are planning memorial services for
7:00 tonight. In the meantime, Chris, we are waiting for Governor Malloy
and police officials that have the grim task that they say may take days of
identifying the victims in the schools -- Chris.

MATTHEWS: Twenty-six young kids, really kids, kindergarten through fourth
grade are dead now. The teacher, the mother of shooter is dead. The
shooter apparently, according to "The New York Times" now reporting, shot
himself.

And I guess the question which is going to linger for days and years is
would this guy have stopped if he hadn`t chosen to shoot himself? What
kept him from just keep on doing it? This could have gone on all through
that school, apparently. There was no one there to stop him.

JANSING: And we do know police have reported that this was in one area of
the school that took place in two different rooms. One of them was this
kindergarten classroom. We also learned in the last hour or so, it was
initially reported that his mother had been killed at the school. Now,
police are saying she was actually killed here at the shooter`s home.

And one more thing I think is worth mentioning. I have rarely in all the
stories that I`ve covered over the last decade, seen the gathering of media
that I`m seeing here how. Satellite trucks are coming in next to me.
There is a reporter from Russia. Next to him is a reporter from Japan.

And so, this is a story that is being covered from around the world.

MATTHEWS: Unfortunately, Chris, you and I know this is an American story,
with Columbine and Aurora, this ability to get access to semi-automatic
weapons. People -- large country like ours with some people with mental
deficiencies all coming together.

We have -- I want to throw back to you -- I guess you`ll throw to the press
conference. It looks like we`re starting. I`ll do it right now.

We`re looking at a group of people which includes Governor Malloy of
Connecticut. They`re going to give us the latest on this tragedy I guess
just about now.

REPORTER: You don`t have to turn, as they said, turn on the TV to find out
information that they`ll get it first before --

MATTHEWS: OK. We`re listening to a reporter up there. We`ll look at the
crowd that Chris was mentioning there -- Chris Jansing on the scene there.
It looks like this is going to be a worldwide event in terms of coverage.

There we have the governor of Connecticut, Governor Malloy. Here he comes.

Now, we just lost the feed, unfortunately. We`re going to get back as soon
as we can. In fact, we now have visual feed. Here he is.

GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: In the ensuing hours since this
unspeakable and tragic event occurred here, as you know, there are a number
of victims, teachers, support personnel in the building. And, children,
beautiful, beautiful children who had simply come to school to learn and
their day ended a very different way than any of us possibly could have
imagined.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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