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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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December 4th, 2013
05:12 PM ET

Senator: 911 tapes force families to 'relive tragedy'

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, had very strong feelings about the Sandy Hook 911 tapes being released to the public.

"My heart went to the families, because they are now reliving the unspeakable tragedy of that day," said Blumenthal.

The tapes bring back terrible memories for families, and force the entire community and all involved on the day to relive the grief and the speed in which the shooting occurred, said the Connecticut senator.

A recent investigation revealed haunting details about the shooter, Adam Lanza, finding a young man clearly suffering from significant mental health issues. Yet his mother, Nancy Lanza, kept weapons in the house and 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.

"You would want treatment for someone like that," mother Michele Gay told The New York Times. Her daughter Josephine was killed in the shooting. "The problem here is that he was completely isolated from anyone but his mother, and the mother did not have the ability or understanding to help her son."

"Nancy Lanza probably needed help herself," said Blumenthal.

"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," said Blumenthal.

The U.S. has to do more to provide mental health outreach and treatment to people of all ages, says the senator, though he said the administration's mental health parity regulations are a step in the right direction.

In January, just a few weeks after the violence at Sandy Hook Elementary, support for stricter gun control was at 55%.

That number has dropped to 49%, according to a poll released today by CNN.

In December of 1993, just days after the Brady Bill was signed into law, 70% of Americans supported stricter regulations on gun ownership.

Blumenthal says he favors "sensible, commonsense measures to control gun violence," but his side of this debate appears to be losing the public opinion war.

"The vast majority of American people - the polls show 80, 90% 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," said Blumenthal.

The newly released 911 tapes also underscore a painful lesson on how so much destruction happened so quickly, says Blumenthal.

"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," said Blumenthal.

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