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Conn. Congressman: 'There's No Precedent For This'


Chris Murphy represents Connecticut's 5th Congressional District, which includes Newtown. He's a Democrat and he's heading to the U.S. Senate next month for his first term. We spoke with him yesterday about Friday's school shooting. Senator-elect, thanks so much for taking the time.

REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS MURPHY: Thank you very much for having me.

MARTIN: I know you have been in Newtown for the last couple of days since the tragedy. Can you give us a sense of the kinds of conversations you've been having with people there?

MURPHY: Well, there's no real way for anybody in Newtown to process what happened. You know, there's a bit of blankness in the faces and eyes of people that are walking around town who were at the firehouse because there's no precedent for this. That being said, you know, I've had the pleasure of representing this town for the last six years. I know it well. And, you know, this is a small town that can come together. And even though this is going to be an awful, terrible long process, you see the best of the town coming out.

MARTIN: The identities of the victims are starting to come out. Have you talked with any of the families? Have you learned details about who these people were?

MURPHY: Obviously, we're dealing with beautiful little children who, you know, leave behind brothers and sisters and parents. And, obviously, there's a number of adults as well. I think what we'll learn though is that there are, you know, acts of heroism that happened that day - teachers and other people in the building who helped deliver others to safety. You know, this is going to take a long time to process. And as people learn more about these victims, you know, I think it'll be even more awful knowing the wonderful, beautiful lives that were lost.

MARTIN: This is obviously a time of immense sadness, a time for grieving in that community, but at the same time, President Obama in his remarks Friday opened the door to a renewed conversation about guns in this country when he said it was time for, quote, "meaningful action." What do you think that means?

MURPHY: Well, you know, that's for, you know, President Obama to, you know, to flesh out for the country. I don't begrudge anyone for, you know, talking about the policy lessons from a tragedy like this, you know, whether it's conversation about gun control or mental health treatment or school safety. But for those of us that are sort of living this, that are on the ground just trying to make sure that people are safe and family members are notified, you know, we're just not thinking about this right now - and we will. You know, I think that myself and Senator Blumenthal and Governor Malloy, we are going to, you know, take a serious look at the lessons that can be learned here and whether there are calls to action, which I imagine there are. You know, but for those of us that are sort of living this right now in the town of Newtown, you know, we'll leave it to others to talk about policy right now. We just got to make sure that we're giving people the resources that they need.

MARTIN: And understandably so. We should point out, though, that you're currently serving in the House of Representatives and in that position you cosponsored a piece of legislation that was meant to close to the so-called gun show loophole, which would require regular criminal background checks on all firearms transactions at gun shows. So, the policy issue surrounding this crime, gun control, is a familiar one to you, right?

MURPHY: Well, sure. There's discussion that will come from this that are, you know, very familiar to the nation, whether you're talking about the policies surrounding guns or whether people have access to the right kind of health services that they need. These are going to be familiar conversations - unfortunately, too familiar - because this is the latest and most awful in a long line of mass shootings. There's too much violence in this nation. There's too easy an ability for individuals to be able to carry out these types of violent mass atrocities. And so we need to talk about this. It's just, you know, for those of us that are managing the crisis, it's just not where our heads are at right now.

MARTIN: Senator-elect Chris Murphy of Connecticut. He currently represents Connecticut's 5th Congressional District, which includes Newtown. Senator-elect Murphy, thanks very much for taking time to talk with us today.

MURPHY: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.