Sen. Blumenthal speaks out on Sandy Hook 911 recordings

This is a quick transcript from CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tappan:


“JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I want to bring in Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, for his reaction to the tragedy one year later.


Senator, we’re not airing the tapes.  I know you have very strong feelings, as do a lot of the Sandy Hook parents, about these tapes being released to the public.  Why should they not have been released?


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT:  Well, the law required that they be released.


We have in Connecticut, as many states do, a very strong Freedom of Information Act.  And the judge really had no choice but to order their release.  And the prosecutor had no real choice but to yield to this process.  And he decided not to appeal that ruling.


But, of course, my heart went to the families, because they are now reliving the unspeakable tragedy of that day.  I went to the school and to the Sandy Hook firehouse that day, and I will never forget the sights and sounds of parents emerging knowing that their children would not be coming home that day.


And I think the tapes bring back those memories, force the entire community and indeed the state, all of us involved on that one day, to relive the horrific grief.  And of course the speed that all of this occurred is also another takeaway from those tapes.  It is not only the scope and the horror and the courage of those educators who were on the calls, but also the speed of everything that happened.


TAPPER:  I remember I went with President Obama to Newtown for the memorial service there later, and the grief was tangible.  It was a physical thing you could feel.  It was a physical thing you could feel, all these mourning parents.  It was — it is difficult to talk about even right now.


In the last few weeks, there has been an investigation released that revealed haunting — there’s really no other word for it — haunting details about the shooter, Adam Lanza, who was clearly a young man suffering from significant mental health issues.  And yet his mother, Nancy Lanza, kept weapons in the house, took her son to the shooting range, where they bonded over target practice.  She even planned to buy him a gun for Christmas last year.


Michele Gay, whose daughter Josephine was killed at the school, she says — quote — “You would want treatment for someone like that.  The problem here is that he was completely isolated from anyone but his mother, and the mother did have the ability of understanding — or understanding to help her son.”


Now, I know it is a sensitive topic to talk about the mother since she was the first one Adam Lanza killed that day, but is that mother correct?  Should Nancy Lanza have stepped up more?


BLUMENTHAL:  Nancy Lanza probably needed help herself.


And, certainly, as a parent of four children, I can speak personally about the challenges of parenting, not in this kind of situation, but easy to say in hindsight what she should have done.  The point is, what society should have done was to reach out to Adam Lanza and provide the kind of diagnosis and treatment that we would hope a civilized country would provide.


And that is directly, I think, relevant to these tapes, as well as the investigative report that a mental health initiative ought to be common ground, that the nation has to do more to provide mental health outreach and treatment to young people, people of all ages.


And I’m glad that the mental health parity regulations finally, four years late, have been released by the administration, but the need for Adam Lanza to have received help, so that like him, other dangerous people may be helped before they commit these atrocious crimes.


TAPPER:  Last January, Senator, just a few weeks after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, support for stricter gun control was at 55 percent.


Now, according to a poll released today by CNN, that number has dropped to 49 percent.  Back in December of 1993, just days after the Brady Bill was signed into law, 70 percent of Americans supported stricter regulations on gun ownership.


What’s going on?  Your side of this debate is losing the public opinion war.


BLUMENTHAL:  I’m not so sure that my side of the debate, which is in favor of sensible, commonsense measures to control gun violence, is losing the debate.


We need to prevent gun violence.  I think the vast majority of American people — the polls show 80, 90 percent believe that background checks are appropriate.  Mental health initiatives are really common ground.  They unite both Republicans and Democrats.  In fact, gun owners are in favor of sensible mental health initiatives.


And I have helped to lead this effort with Republican and Democratic colleagues like Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Mark Begich of Alaska.  And we also need to be mindful of the lessons of that tape, those tapes that have been released.


The speed of this massacre was enabled by the use of an assault weapon and a high-capacity magazine or a series of magazines that enabled the shooter to kill 20 beautiful children, six great educators in a matter of minutes.  And that speed comes across on the tape as well.


To your point about the grief, the community is still healing on this one-year anniversary.  I spent some time just today with some of the police who responded on that day, and they still feel the horrific, unimaginable tragedy of that unbelievable day.  And I think that brief will last for awhile.  And I hope that the polls, that American public opinion will reflect or reflect on the lessons that we need to take away.


TAPPER:  All right, Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut, thank you again.


CNN will broadcast, I should note, a portion of the released audio once the tapes have been completely reviewed and can be placed in their proper context.  We just won’t be doing it on this show.  ”