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updated 1/31/2013 10:51:43 AM ET 2013-01-31T15:51:43

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
January 30, 2013

Guests: Gayle Trotter, Jim Johnson, Richard Friedman, Richard Wolffe, Ari Melber

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Forty-seven days after the massacre at
Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the Senate Judiciary
Committee held a rare, full committee hearing, televised hearing, on gun
and ammunition control. How rare is that? It was their first gun control
hearing of the 21st century.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Americans are looking to us for
solutions and for action.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: Battle over gun control moves to Capitol
Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first hearing since the Newtown massacre.

FORMER REP. GABBY GIFFORDS (D), ARIZONA: Speaking is difficult. But
I need to say something important.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Gabby Giffords at the Senate Judiciary
hearing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Giffords made a plea for action.

GIFFORDS: Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you.

MARK KELLY, GABBY GIFFORDS` HUSBAND: Behind every victim lays a
matrix of failure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mark Kelly, husband of Gabby Giffords.

KELLY: Rights demand responsibility. First, fix gun background
checks.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: It`s not a serious solution for reducing crime.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: The NRA is clearly,
dramatically out of step.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: LaPierre dismissed universal background checks.

LAPIERRE: Background checks will never be universal.

JANSING: Background checks will never be universal.

LAPIERRE: You`re never going to get criminals to go through universal
background checks.

JANSING: Because criminals will never submit to them.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: The criminals won`t go to purchase
the guns because there`ll be a background check.

MITCHELL: This testy exchange between Dick Durbin and Wayne LaPierre.

DURBIN: You missed the point completely. And I think it is basic.

LAPIERRE: Senator, I think you missed it.

LEAHY: Let there be order.

LAPIERRE: I think you`re missing it.

LEAHY: Let there be order.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chairman Patrick Leahy pressed LaPierre.

LEAHY: Should we have mandatory background checks at gun shows?

LAPIERRE: If you`re a dealer, that`s already the law.

LEAHY: Please, Mr. LaPierre, I`m not trying to play games here, but
if you could just answer my question.

KELLY: Rights demand responsibility. Law abiding gun owners will not
accept blame.

LEAHY: Americans are looking to us for solutions and for action.

KELLY: This time must be different.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: The Senate Judiciary Committee today held the first Senate
hearing on gun and ammunition control, in the aftermath of the massacre of
20 first graders and six women educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in
Newtown, Connecticut.

Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson addressed one of the more
absurd proposals that has been floated in the wake of the first graders,
the NRA nonsense that American school children should be protected by
teachers with guns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF JIM JOHNSON, BALTIMORE CO., POLICE CHIEF: You`re a teacher in a
classroom, an educator, you dedicated your entire life to that pursuit, but
you`ve got a side arm strapped to yourself, you better have it all the
time, because if you put it in your desk drawer, your purse, or your brief
case, and where are you leave it?

Let me tell you something, carrying this weapon on my side has been a
pain all of these years. I`m glad I have it if I need it. But let me tell
you, it`s an awesome responsibility. What about the summertime? When you
dress down? How are you going to safeguard that weapon from a classroom
full of 16-year-olds that want to touch? How are you going to do that?

And, certainly, the holsters, I`m spending $200 apiece just for the
holsters so you can`t rip it from my side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The committee controlled by the Democrats called three
witnesses opposed to all forms of gun and ammunition controls. And only
two in favor of the bills proposed by President Obama and Senator Diane
Feinstein.

Chief Johnson was one of the supporters of the Democrats legislation,
and the husband of Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly, was there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: The shooter in Tucson showed up with two 33-round magazines,
one which was in his .9 mm. He unloaded the contents in 15 seconds, very
quickly. It all happened very, very fast. The first bullet went into
Gabby`s head, bullet 13 went into a 9-year-old girl named Christina Taylor
Green.

If he had a 10-round magazine, let me back up. When he tried to
reload one 33-round magazine with another 33 round magazine he dropped it.
And a woman named Patricia Maisch grabbed it. It gave the bystanders a
time to tackle him.

I contend if that same thing happened when he was trying to reload one
10-round magazine with another 10-round magazine, meaning he didn`t have
access to a high capacity magazine, and the same thing happened, Christina
Taylor Green would be alive today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: The case against banning high-capacity magazines and assault
weapons was made anecdotally by Republican senators and witnesses in favor
of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. But all of their anecdotes
were about people defending themselves using more traditional firearms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GAYLE TROTTER, INDEPENDENT WOMEN`S FORUM: I would like to begin with
the compelling story of Sarah McKinley. Home alone with her baby, she
called 911 when two violent intruders began to break down her door. These
men were forcing their way into her home to steal their prescription
medication of her recently deceased husband.

Before the police could arrive, while Ms. McKinley was still on the
phone with 911, these violent intruders broke down her door. One of the
men had a foot-long hunting knife. As the intruders forced their way into
her home, Ms. McKinley fired her weapon, fatally wounding one of the
violent attackers. The other fled.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Every Republican on the committee insisted that there was
absolutely nothing they could do to reduce in any way the number of people
massacred in our schools, or our movie theaters or shopping malls. They
all believe that is not a job for senators. That is a job for
psychiatrists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: We need to ask whether years of
deinstitutionalization of the mental health population has left America
more vulnerable. Perhaps its` time to consider our background check laws
to see if they need to be updated, to screen out the people who are
subjected to court-ordered out-patient mental health treatment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: But no mental health professional was actually asked to
speak at that hearing. And so, we will now partially put together the
panel of witnesses who appeared in the Senate today, and this time include
a mental health expert.

Joining me now are: Dr. Richard Friedman, a psychiatrist at the Will
Cornell Medical College.

Gayle Trotter, a senior fellow at the Independent Women`s Forum, who
testified today.

Baltimore County Police Jim Johnson, he is the chair of the National
Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence. He also testified
today.

Dr. Friedman, I want us to listen to something that Senator Franken
said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I want to be careful that we don`t
stigmatize mental illness. The vast majority of people with mental illness
are no more violent than the rest of the population. In fact, they`re more
likely to be the victims of violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Dr. Friedman, you wrote a very instructive piece about
this in "The New York Times" and you pointed out that the shooter in
Newtown, Connecticut, was not floridly psychotic, did not exhibit symptoms
that a medical health care professional could have reasonably used in an
evaluation that would somehow have prevented him from ever getting his
hands on his mother`s weapons.

What can we reasonably expect from the mental health system in this
arena? And what can we not reasonably expect?

DR. RICHARD FRIEDMAN, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, Lawrence, I think to answer
that question it is important for viewers to understand that the vast
majority of people with mental illness are not violent. In fact, people
with mental illness really contribute to only about 4 percent of overall
violence in the United States.

So, all the focus on mentally ill people as the source of danger and
violence is really a diversion and a distraction from the much larger
problem in this country, which is that we have really homicide by firearms
as a huge epidemic -- 30,000 people every year die by firearms in the
United States, 17,000 by the suicide, and 13,000 by homicide. The vast
majority of those people who die by homicide are not mentally ill. The
people who commit those crimes are not mentally ill people.

O`DONNELL: Gayle Trotter, I want to listen to the exchange that you
had with Senator Whitehouse today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Ms. Trotter, quick
question, Sarah McKinley, in defending her home, used the Remington 870
Express 12-gauge shotgun that would not be banned under the statute,
correct?

TROTTER: I don`t remember what type of weapon she used.

WHITEHOUSE: Well, trust me, it was, and that would not have been
banned under the statute. So, it doesn`t -- I think it proves the point
with ordinary firearms, not 100-magazine peculiar types of artifacts,
people are quite capable of defending themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Gayle Trotter, the hearing is about legislation that would
ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And you used an anecdote
of someone defending themselves not using one of those weapons. In fact,
in the hearing, there was not a single anecdote presented by you or any
Republicans, or anyone else, of anyone successfully defending themselves
with an assault weapon and/or a high-capacity magazine. Every single
weapon incident that was mentioned was a more traditional firearm that
would not in any way be affected by legislation contemplated by anyone.

Could you not find a single example anywhere in the country of anyone
successfully defending themselves with the kind of weapons used in our
uniquely American massacres?

TROTTER: I am very grateful to be able to come on this show tonight
and share a view that I think is not being well represented in our national
discussion right now. Which is why I`m glad that the senators asked me to
come and speak at the hearing today.

O`DONNELL: Gayle, I have to interrupt you here and now, because I
asked you a specific question, I need specific answers, we don`t have as
much time that you had in that over three-hour hearing today. So, tell me
if you can find even one, and just answer that, I believe you couldn`t find
one, and just answer that, I believe you couldn`t find one, because if you
could find one such case anywhere in the 50 states, we would have heard
about it today. You didn`t have that case, did you?

TROTTER: I would like to direct all of your viewers --

O`DONNELL: You`re not answering the question.

TROTTER: I am.

O`DONNELL: Just say "I can`t answer the question, it will embarrass
my case," if that`s what you`re going to do, take a minute to make a
speech.

TROTTER: I`m not going to make a speech, but you asked me a question,
and I`m going to answer it if you give me the chance.

O`DONNELL: Take a minute and let`s see if there is an answer in there
somewhere, and if there isn`t, I`m going to have to stop you.

TROTTER: I suggest that all the viewers go to my testimony, posted on
line. There is an appendix three pages long that details attacks against
women by violent men. And I detailed in my testimony a case where a woman
was attacked by five men.

And the point of telling the story about Sarah McKinley and three
pages of testimony in my testimony about women facing attack by violent men
is to show that women are at a severe disadvantage. It doesn`t matter what
type of gun Sarah McKinley used to defend her baby. And it doesn`t matter
for women who are in that situation when their life is on the line, their
children`s lives are on the line, and they need to be able to have the
firepower to protect their family.

So I think that in that situation, I could relate to that story. And
I can relate to the three pages of -- in my testimony about women facing
attack. Over 90 percent of violent crime in our country, occurs without a
firearm. And in those situations, women are always at a severe
disadvantage.

I --

O`DONNELL: OK, Gayle, I read your testimony and saw your testimony
and read your appendix, OK? I want to make it clear to the audience, you
used exactly, in your testimony, exactly one real example. You then used a
fanciful, imagined example, which we will play the tape letter.

I read every one of the examples in your appendix. There are 14 of
them. Not one of them included an assault weapon being used defensively at
all, or a high-capacity magazine.

In fact, there were 14 such cases in your appendix. In nine of the
cases, in nine of the cases, the assailants fled as soon as a shot was
fired.

In two of your cases, the possible criminals fled as soon as they saw
a gun. As soon as they saw a woman with a gun, they fled.

There were only five cases in which -- in which anything else happened
involving a shot from them.

I want to move on to the chief. And then I`m going to come back to
you, Gayle.

Chief Johnson, I want to ask you a question. You did not hear in that
testimony today a single example of anyone in America, male or female,
successfully defending themselves from some kind of attack or intrusion
with an assault weapon and/or high capacity magazine. And the hearing was
about that use of that kind of equipment specifically.

And every single anecdote we heard from Lindsey Graham, from Gayle,
from everyone else, was about people using traditional firearms -- and,
Chief, using them successfully. They were all stories of people who proved
they don`t need these weapons.

JOHNSON: There was no evidence or no testimony presented today that
involved an assault weapon used to defend one`s self in an attack.

Ms. Trotter, we made it very clear today that law enforcement and
frankly no political leader is calling for a ban on all weapons. This is
not what this is about. In a domestic violence case, we know that over 50
percent of women are killed by a gun, by domestic partner or household
member.

If there is a gun in the House, where there is a domestic violence
situation we know there is a 500 percent greater chance they`ll be victims.
And in states that have a background check, a thorough background check,
the possibility of being a victim reduces by over 38 percent.

So, we`re not trying to keep the guns out of the hands of women or
anyone in this particular case. Just guns that are frankly assault weapons
and in this case, high-capacity weapons, more than ten, and a thorough
background check.

O`DONNELL: Gayle, on your appendix list, I just want to make another
reference to it. Of the 14 cases, several of them included situations in
which the attacker was not armed at all.

TROTTER: That`s exactly my point.

O`DONNELL: You then, Gayle, in your testimony, I want to go to one
more piece of your testimony.

TROTTER: Sure.

O`DONNELL: And I`m sorry, we`re rushing because we don`t have so much
time here, where you talked about the assault weapon in the hands of a
young woman. You were making the case of how assault weapons empower young
women.

And you offered this purely, entirely fictional, imaginary case that
has never happened. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TROTTER: An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending
her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon. And the peace of mind
that a woman has as she is facing three, four, five violent attackers,
intruders, in her home with her children screaming in the background, the
peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary looking gun, gives
her more courage when she is fighting hardened, violent criminals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Gayle, there are you in testimony to the Senate, imagining
babies screaming in the background, imagining a woman with an assault
weapon facing down five armed intruders. That has never happened, this is
not one such case that you have ever found anywhere.

And so for your testimony to the Senate, you had to imagine it, didn`t
you?

TROTTER: I think we should not limit women`s Second Amendment right
to choose to defend themselves.

O`DONNELL: Oh, boy.

TROTTER: I don`t think it is a laughing matter.

O`DONNELL: It is to me, Gayle. You imagined -- you imagined --

(CROSSTALK)

TROTTER: You can`t imagine being a mother in your home with children
trying to defend them from violent intruders.

O`DONNELL: You do not go to the Senate to imagine things. You do not
go to the Senate to imagine things. You go to Senate to report things.
You go to the Senate to help them with facts about how they should
construct their legislation.

And you went in there imagining -- you went in there imagining
something that never happened.

TROTTER: I have to go on there and give a particular view point.
Speaking for millions of American women, for politics --

O`DONNELL: You were not speaking for one, tell me the name of a woman
who did that with an assault weapon. It has never happened. If you guys
have that case --

TROTTER: You are completely ignoring the point that I am trying to
make.

O`DONNELL: -- if you had that case you don`t have it.

TROTTER: Women should not have undue burdens on their Second
Amendment right to choose to defend themselves, their families and the
vulnerable members of their family.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: What is the name of your organization? The Independent
Women`s Forum.

TROTTER: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Are you an independent woman or a right-wing Republican?

TROTTER: I`m an independent woman.

O`DONNELL: Do you believe in a woman`s right to choose abortion in
certain cases?

TROTTER: I believe in a woman`s right to choose to self defense.

O`DONNELL: You do not believe -- you don`t believe in a woman`s right
to choose in cases of her own health. You only believe in the women`s
right to choose any --

TROTTER: You just assumed that. I didn`t answer that. You just
assumed that, that is not what I was asked on this show to talk about.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: When you don`t answer that question, you represent these
right wing views we know who you are.

TROTTER: It`s very easy to --

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: And the only women`s right to choose that you support --
you support the women`s right to choose massacre weapons, that is all you
support.

TROTTER: Calling people names is not a way to win an argument.

O`DONNELL: Gayle, you support a woman`s right to choose any kind of
massacre weapon she might want. But you do not support a woman`s right to
make her own choices in health.

TROTTER: No, it`s not a massacre weapon. It`s a defense weapon.

O`DONNELL: It`s never been used as a defense by a woman in America.
Can you find one woman in America who has actually used one for defense?

(CROSSTALK)

TROTTER: A person who is not able to defend themselves. So putting
women in that category --

O`DONNELL: Gayle, we have to go, your woman`s organization could not
-- which has no members, by the way, just a thousand person mailing list.
Your organization could not find one woman in America who defended herself
with these massacre weapons that you want to continue to make available to
the mass murderers of this country. And that is what your efforts are
doing.

TROTTER: You`re advocating, putting undue burden`s on a woman`s right
to self defense.

O`DONNELL: Gayle, you just got THE LAST WORD.

TROTTER: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Gayle Trotter, Chief Jim Johnson, and Dr. Richard Friedman
-- I wish we had more time for this. Thank you all very much for joining
me tonight.

TROTTER: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Wayne LaPierre`s big flip-flop on background
checks. He used to be in favor of them. And today, he is opposed to them.

And we`re going to have more in today`s hearing. And in the rewrite
tonight, the witnesses who weren`t there. No one in Newtown, Connecticut
testified at today`s hearing. But we`ll hear from one of the parents of
one of the victims of that massacre in tonight`s rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Today, the governor of Massachusetts announced his choice
of who will take over John Kerry`s seat in the United States Senate. And
he did not choose Barney Frank, despite me publicly urging him to do so for
weeks now. What could the guy possibly have been thinking?

We will find out when the governor joins me tomorrow night on this
program. And we`ll show you the man he did choose later in the show
tonight. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIFFORDS: Too many children are dying -- too many children. You must
act. Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the victim of a gun
massacre using a high-capacity magazine, was the first to speak at the
Senate hearing on gun violence today. She was helped out of the hearing
room -- after that -- after her short introduction, and then she was
succeeded in her testimony by her husband, Mark Kelly. Wayne LaPierre, the
million dollar lobbyist for mass murderers, testified that background
checks are just useless.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAPIERRE: My problem with background checks is you`re never going to
get criminals to go through universal background checks. All the law
abiding people, you create an enormous federal bureaucracy. And we aren`t
going to prosecute the bad guys if they do catch one. And none of it makes
any sense in the real world.

DURBIN: Mr. LaPierre, that`s the point. The criminals won`t go to
purchase the guns because there will be a background check. We`ll stop
them from the original purchase. You missed that point completely. I
think it`s basic.

LAPIERRE: Senator, I think you missed it.

LEAHY: Let there be order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary
Committee, pointed out today that the last time Wayne LaPierre testified to
Congress about this, his testimony was exactly the opposite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAPIERRE: We think it`s reasonable to provide mandatory, instant
criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show -- no loopholes
anywhere for anyone. In fact, it`s the media`s well-kept secret that the
NRA was an early architect and supporter of the national instant check
system now in place. We think it`s reasonable to provide for instant gun
checks at shows just like at gun stores and pawnshops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: What happened between 1999 and now? For one thing, the
Tea Party happened -- people with even more extremist positions on several
issues than the national rifle association, people flagrantly brandishing
their Second Amendment rights at political events, specifically gun-toting
events for President Obama, showing up in campaign events in New Hampshire
and elsewhere, with their guns on display.

And, of course, there was the emergence of gun rights groups trying to
outdo the NRA with more inflammatory retroactive. Today, Wayne LaPierre
and the NRA were determined not to allow any gun rights fanatics to sound
crazier than Wayne LaPierre.

Joining me now, MSNBC`s Krystal Ball, and investigative journalist
Frank Smyth who went inside the NRA for "Mother Jones" and is an MSNBC.com
contributor.

Krystal, it seems to me that the Tea Party has had its effect on the
NRA, nudging them even further into the crazy season.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it certainly seems that way. And,
look, the NRA is an interest group and they are an absolutist group. What
they do is they sending out these anecdotes, like what you heard Gayle
Trotter repeating of people who successfully defended themselves and then
they engage in a lot of fear-mongering, convincing their membership that
Obama and the Democrats want to come for their guns.

And that has worked for a long time. But what we`re seeing now, I
think what we`re seeing today is the death of a caricature, that stuff
worked for so long. But what are we talking about? Assault weapons ban,
extended magazine clip ban and background checks for everyone. All of that
makes reasonable sense to a lot of people, including a lot of NRA members.

O`DONNELL: Frank Smyth, take us through the road the NRA has traveled
from what we just saw in 1999, taking a fairly reasonable position on that
issue to where they are now, saying today -- Wayne LaPierre`s testimony
today, absolutely no law of any kind, in any way. The NRA is opposed to
anything anyone will propose.

FRANK SMYTH, MSNBC.COM CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you`ve got to remember,
Lawrence, the NRA was a moderate organization in favor of gun control for
most of its history, through the late 19th century and right through most
of the 20th century, including backing legislation in 1934, and 1968, in
favor of gun control.

I think what happened in 1999, was that Wayne LaPierre was under
pressure. And I think the NRA was concerned that a law was going to be
passed that they opposed. So they made and others made a tactical decision
to come out in favor of instant background checks. I think there was a
backlash inside the board of the NRA that said you never should make a
tactical decision, you should always stand for principles, and principles
are absolute. The kind of rhetoric you heard last week from the same Mr.
LaPierre in Reno, Nevada. And I think that explains his apparent flip-
flopping between `99 and today.

And the other thing to keep in mind, Lawrence, is that Wayne LaPierre
is not the leader per se of the National Rifle Association. He leads at
the behest of the board. And I think right now, there is a great deal of
turmoil, for reasons that Krystal laid out, about how to respond to what
now is unprecedented pressure, the more pressure that we`ve seen in almost
50 years for gun control in this country.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to a point Dick Durbin made with Wayne
LaPierre. And, Frank, it`s something you predicted. Let`s listen to this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: We need the fire power and the
ability to protect ourselves from our government -- from our government,
from the police, if they knock on our doors and we need to fight back. Do
you agree with that point of view?

LAPIERRE: If you look at why our Founding Fathers put it there, they
had lived under the tyranny of King George, and they wanted to make sure
these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and
have to live under tyranny.

DURBIN: Chief Johnson, you have heard it. The belief of the NRA is
the Second Amendment has to give American citizens the fire power to fight
back against you, against our government.

(END VIDEO CLIP0

O`DONNELL: Frank this is the point you have been making, that the
NRA`s position now is citizens need the fire power that matches the
heaviest fire power of the police and the military.

SMYTH: Look, LaPierre has written that himself and said it himself a
number of times. Whenever he is in front of a sympathetic forum, he makes
this case very clearly. Last week in Reno, Nevada, he referred to the
Second Amendment -- last year at the United Nations, he called the Second
Amendment freedom`s most valuable, most cherished, most irreplaceable idea,
seeming to rank it above other articles in the Bill of Rights, and perhaps
even the Constitution itself.

But clearly now this -- the rhetoric, the absolutist, if not extremist
rhetoric of the National Rifle Association seems to be catching up with
them.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball and Frank Smyth, thank you both for joining
me tonight.

BAL: Thanks, Lawrence.

SMYTH: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Hillary Clinton says she just can`t see herself
getting back into politics. But Andrea Mitchell sure can. Which is why
Andrea asked Hillary if she would challenge Joe Biden in a Democratic
primary. You will see Hillary`s answer to that question coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The voices of Newtown, Connecticut, were not heard at
today`s Senate hearing. But they were heard at another hearing tonight in
Connecticut. We will bring you the moving testimony of one of the parents
of one of the six-year-olds killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary
School, testimony given just hours ago.

That is in tonight`s Rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP0

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know despite all of your denials, all of us
are waiting to see you back in political action in 2016, as possibly the
United States`s first woman president. So I`m not saying that as a
question. I`m just observing that we think that might happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP0

O`DONNELL: In the Spotlight tonight, Hillary Clinton, who is the only
person who can get more media attention by resigning as secretary of state
than she could by continuing in that job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP0

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I am really looking
forward to stepping off the fast track that I`ve been on. You know, I`ve
been out of politics as secretary of state. I don`t see myself getting
back into politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP0

O`DONNELL: Yes, she actually said that. "I don`t see myself getting
back into politics." Of course, everyone else can see her getting back
into politics, which is why our own Andrea Mitchell asked her how she would
feel about running against Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential
nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP0

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Do you feel that -- that Joe Biden, as
the vice president, has the right of first refusal, as it were, within the
party? Or is it an open competition, if you decide to run?

CLINTON: Well, American politics is always an open competition. But
I have no -- you know, I have no position on any of this. I have no
opinion about it. I am still secretary of state. I can`t really engage in
politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP0

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Richard Wolffe. And Richard, the
Academy Award for keeping a straight face goes to Hillary Clinton when she
says I can`t really engage in politics. That is just a remarkable
performance.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Actually, Lawrence, I also
have a constitutional limit on the political discussion I can engage with
too. What is she talking about, that she can`t engage in politics? She is
leaving the stage as secretary of state.

So this is exactly why she is such a formidable candidate. She
manages to answer the question in what sounds like an honest way, but
obviously doesn`t really answer the question. She is brilliant.

O`DONNELL: I want to get to something Andrea raised, which is
important and kind of has to be dealt with now. And that is the health
question. Let`s listen to Hillary`s answer about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP0

CLINTON: It doesn`t factor in at all. You know, that -- I have no
doubt that I`m healthy enough and my stamina is great enough. And I will
be fully recovered to do whatever I choose to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP0

O`DONNELL: OK, we have that out of the way, Richard.

WOLFFE: Just in case you were wondering.

O`DONNELL: What is the realistic timing for her on making real public
moves on this? Because Joe Biden seems to already be doing that.

WOLFFE: You know, that is what was so interesting and clinical about
the response to Andrea Mitchell`s great question. Everything is an open
competition in American politics. It would be a fascinating context. How
does she need to stack this up? Well, we know that approaching that
midterm mark, the president will be a lame duck, effectively.

That is the moment where you`re really stacking up the chips. Of
course, she has a husband who has that life long account of chits that he
is owed. And he will use that and deploy that even if his wife is not
going to do that. So assuming she does want to run -- and of course, that
is still something of an open question -- she can run it right up to that
midterm point of 2014.

O`DONNELL: I am betting everything I have got on Hillary`s running.
Richard Wolffe, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

WOLFFE: Me too.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the man who will replace John Kerry in the
United States Senate.

And in the Rewrite tonight, the testimony that should have been heard
by the Senate today, that actually was heard by the Connecticut Legislature
tonight. We will bring you the moving testimony just given a few hours ago
by one of the parents of one of the kids killed at Sandy Hook Elementary
School. That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the Rewrite tonight, the witnesses who weren`t there.
No one from Newtown, Connecticut, testified at today`s Senate hearing,
which would never have occurred were it not for the massacre of 20 first
graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut. But testimony from
Newtown was heard today by the Connecticut Legislature`s bipartisan Task
Force on Gun Violence and School Safety.

David Wheeler, whose six-year-old son, Benjamin, was shot to death in
the elementary school, spoke at that hearing earlier this evening. Here
now is his testimony, testimony that the Senate Judiciary Committee should
have heard today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP0

DAVID WHEELER, SON KILLED IN SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SHOOTING:
We lost our son Benjamin the morning of December 14th to an unstable,
suicidal individual, who had access to a weapon that has no place in a
home. Right now, professionals in every area pertaining to this crime,
from mental health to parenting to school safety, are unable to connect the
necessary dots to prevent this from happening again.

A far more comprehensive system of identifying and monitoring
individuals in mental distress is required. It needs to be implemented.
That a person with these problems could live in a home where he had access
to among the most powerful firearms available to non-military personnel is
unacceptable.

It doesn`t matter to whom these weapons were registered. It doesn`t
matter if they were purchased legally. What matters is that it was far too
easy for another mentally unbalanced, suicidal person who had violent
obsessions to have easy access to unreasonably powerful weapons.

The inability of agencies to share information regarding at-risk
individuals` mental states, personal histories, proximity to firearms, this
contributed to the senseless murder of my six year old son, 19 other
children and seven adults.

This is where you must focus your efforts. First, military-style
assault weapons belong in an armory, under lock and key. They do not
belong in a weapons safe in a home. We now have more unassailable proof
that this is true beyond argument, as if that were necessary. Legislation
must ensure that any firearm in a home be registered annually.

Second, at-risk individuals must be identified and continually
assessed by capable mental health professionals in a way that leaves their
dignity and their self-respect intact.

Most importantly, databases of accurate information must be leveraged
to allow identification of where the two issues of mental health and
firearms ownership intersect. There is no reason that firearms
registrations can`t capture important data on all members of a household.
They should be renewed regularly to allow for the fact that one`s mental
and emotional state may change over time.

As elected representatives, it is your job to craft the legislation
that keeps your constituents safe. Thomas Jefferson described our
inalienable rights as "life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness," the rights
with which we are endowed for the protection of which we have instituted
governments.

I do not think the composition of that foundational phrase was an
accident. I do not think the order of those important words was haphazard
or casual. The liberty of any person to own a military style assault
weapon and a high-powered magazine and keep them in their home is second to
the right of my son to his life -- his life, to the right to live of all of
those children and those teachers, to the right to the lives of your
children, of you, of all of us, all of our lives.

It is second. Let`s honor the founding documents and get our
priorities straight. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, FUTURE SECRETARY OF STATE: Standing here at this desk
that once belonged -- at this desk that once belonged to President Kennedy
and to Ted Kennedy, I can`t help but be reminded that even our nation`s
greatest leaders and all the rest of us are merely temporary workers. I`m
reminded that this chamber is a living museum, a lasting memorial to the
miracle of the American experiment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was John Kerry giving an emotional farewell speech on
the Senate floor today. He will be sworn in as secretary of state on
Friday. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick today chose his former chief
of staff, William Mo Cowan, to be the temporary senator until a special
Senate election can be held on June 25th. The 43-year-old married father
of two served in the Patrick administration from 2009 until November of
2012.

He is a graduate of Duke University and Northeastern University School
of Law in Boston. Senator Cowan will join the recently appointed
Republican South Carolina Senator Tim Scott in the United States Senate,
where they will be the first two African-Americans to serve in the Senate
at the same time.

Governor Patrick explained why he chose Mr. Cowan for the Senate
today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: He has been a valued ally to
me and to our work on behalf of the people of the commonwealth. In every
step, he has brought preparation, perspective, wisdom, sound judgment and
clarity of purpose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray added this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GOV. TIM MURRAY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: He is cool. Tom Brady,
George Clooney, James Bond, the president have nothing on Mo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Really? I`ll let you be the judge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MO COWAN, APPOINTED TO BE U.S. SENATOR: There is no greater calling
than to be able to go and serve the people of Massachusetts, to give back
to a state that has given so much to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Barney Frank, who made public his desire to be the
appointed senator and was the only person the governor could have appointed
who could start the job at full speed and full effectiveness on Friday,
released this statement: "I know Mr. Cowan is committed to working hard and
in socially fair and economically efficient manner towards resolving
pending budget issues. I now look forward to working for the election of
Ed Markey to continue this work and to providing President Obama the
support he deserves in carrying out the mandate he received in November."

Joining me now, MSNBC`s Ari Melber. Ari, I don`t understand what
happened. This is the very first time a Massachusetts governor did not
follow my advice. I advised him to choose Barney Frank. But I have to
say, it is also the very first time I have gave advice to a Massachusetts
governor. So I`m only zero for 1.

ARI MELBER, "THE NATION": Yeah, zero for one is better than zero for
10, Lawrence. I think it goes to your theory of change and your theory of
politics. Very little leverage over these kind of appointments. You
sometimes seriously, sometimes jokingly, but also the Progressive Campaign
Change Committee -- and you had Adam Green from them on. A couple of
groups were trying to get in on this game.

But it is a top down process and the governor will do what they want.
I don`t have any beef with Mo. I don`t know how cool he is. I don`t have
any beef with him. I think it is pretty traditional to pick one of your
former aides rather than go from the broader community.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, it`s it -- does open up certain questions, but you
can`t see him standing there with that appointment and not understand much
of what the governor was thinking. I`ll find out tomorrow night. He is
going to join me tomorrow night. And he is going to have to defend and
explain this choice tomorrow night under my cross examination.

So we`ll see how the governor does with that.

MELBER: Yes. And I do think you raise another point there, which is
the two African American senators in the entire Senate of 100 people, both
there by virtue of appointments. It speaks to something good and bad in
our politics. Bad when you look at how hard it is to get in the body, but
good that now governors in body have seen that as a plus factor. I would
call that affirmative action in the best sense.

O`DONNELL: The governor was holding history in his hands, and it`s
awfully tough to deny history. I`m working my way toward an understanding
as we speak.

Ari Melber gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.

END

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