"Face the Nation" transcripts December 16, 2012: Newtown tragedy

MALLOY: Well, you know when someone can walk -- when someone can use an assault weapon to enter a building, actually shoot out that which was preventing him from getting in the building, have clips of up to 30 rounds on a weapon that can almost instantaneously fire those, you have to start to question whether assault weapons should be allowed to be distributed the way they are in the United States. You're right, Connecticut has pretty tough regulations, but, obviously, they didn't prevent this woman from acquiring that weapon, and, obviously, allowed the son to come into possession of those and use them in a most disastrous way, a most vicious way.

SCHIEFFER: What do you want now from your legislature and from Congress? What would you like to see happen? Have you had time to think about that?

MALLOY: You know, I haven't had a whole lot of time to think about the national implications. I'm trying to help my state and this small community recover. You know, it was just Friday afternoon that I had to break it to 40 families that their loved one -- excuse me, 20 families that their loved one would not be returning to them that day or in the future. We're in the process of grieving, of attempting to recover. We have a church here that's going to have eight funerals over the coming days. We're lending every asset we can to this community, whether it's our troopers who are handling the investigation, or our troopers who are directing traffic, every community in the surrounding area wants to do everything they can to help Newtown and its citizens.

SCHIEFFER: I understand, Governor, that the children are going back to school, what, Wednesday, is it? Will they be ready to go back to school?

MALLOY: Well, you know, I think that that's a decision for parents to make. It's our obligation to open a school, and that's what we'll do. And, obviously, I think a lot of people would get back to -- would like to get back to whatever normal will look like as quickly as possible. The school system itself, the broader school system, I think, will start classes on Tuesday, is what I've heard. A replacement building for the building in this tragedy is being worked on, and should be open by Wednesday.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Governor, it goes without saying our hearts go out to you and your community. Thank you so much.

MALLOY: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: And we will be back in a moment. I'll have some personal thoughts.


SCHIEFFER: By now, the pros and cons of the gun issue are well- known, but here is the question that must be asked: Is what happened Friday the new normal? Of course, there are legitimate reasons for both pleasure and protection to own guns, but if the slaughter of innocent children is not bad enough to make us rethink what we can do to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, what is bad enough? To what depths of horror must we sink before we say this cannot be tolerated? Are we willing to settle for a culture in which Kindergarten children are no longer safe in the classroom and a visit to a mall or a movie is a life-threatening experience? In recent years there has been no serious effort to address this problem, no piece of gun legislation was seriously considered during this session of Congress. It is a subject no one wants to talk about for fear of offending the powerful gun lobby. Perhaps it is time to remember what Ed Murrow told us, that we are not descended from fearful people. Our forefathers had the courage to tell the most powerful country of their day, you have gone too far, we can tolerate this no more. And upon this courage America was built. Have we, their descendants, become so afraid of the possible political consequences that we are unwilling to explore ways to make a safer world for our children? I cannot believe we have. I think we are better than that. Back in a minute.


SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but for most of you we'll be right back with more on this story. Stay with us.


SCHIEFFER: Welcome back now to "Page Two" of FACE THE NATION. Joining us on this very sad Sunday: Dr. James Peterson, he is the director of Africana Studies at Lehigh University; Dan Gross is the president of the Brady campaign to prevent gun violence, David Frum was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, now writes for the Daily Beast, and Jeffrey Goldberg is is the national correspondent for The Atlantic. We asked the National Rifle Association for a representative today but they declined. Gentlemen, I want to just ask the general question, and why don't we just go around the horn here, I will start with you, Dan, do you knowledge this is as, Chuck Schumer said a while ago -- that this may be the tipping point here, that we may see something change here? Because the last couple of years, people haven't even wanted to talk about this issue.

DAN GROSS, BRADY CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: Yeah, I mean, the only people who haven't wanted to talk about it have been our elected officials. I do think it's a pivotal moment in the history of this issue. I mean, this is a conversation that's been percolating in the American public for a long time now. I mean, you look at policy measures, like background checks. 74 percent of NRA members support them. Problem is the disconnect between what the American public wants -- you know, we're out there talking to the American public every day. We're speaking with families of victims, people who have been touched personally by this issue. This nation wants change. We want to have a sensible conversation. And the only place that sensible conversation isn't happening is in the halls of Congress. And I do think with the president coming out saying we want meaningful action, we take him at his word, and we just need to bring the voice of the American public to that conversation.