Hardball | January 30, 2013
>>> just say no? let's play "hardball."
>>> good evening. i'm michael smerconish in tonight for chris matthews . leading off, gun fight . the pictures alone were dramatic. former congresswoman gabrielle giffords nearly killed by a bullet seated at the same witness table as the nra 's wayne lapierre .
>> you must act. be bold, be courageous. americans are counting on you.
>> as the rest of the country comes to the realization, something must be done to prevent gun violence . the nra and the allies in the republican party are digging in. we'll look at what president obama can and can't accomplish on gun staft at the top of the program.
>>> plus does president obama want a deal on illegal immigrati immigration? which would be huge on his legacy. or does he want the issue hanging around so republicans get punished at the polls by latino voters. we'll get some answers tonight.
>>> and it may be last call for the tea party . consider this. republicans with national ambitions claim they want tome to stop being the stupid party. conservatives are working with democrats on illegal immigration . and fox news parts ways with sarah palin . dana milbank says it's all evidence the tea party is losing steam and he's with us tonight.
>>> plus the boy scouts of america are considering dropping their ban on gay volunteers and members. it's another sign of the progress this country has made on gay rights . but not without controversy.
>>> and finally, is the most powerful republican in the senate the next victim of the gop purity effort? we'll begin with the hearing on gun safety . mark glaze and david corn the washington bureau chief for mother jones magazine . mark, let me begin with you. you were there. were there any surprises or did everyone play their usual role?
>> there's a certain amount of kabuki to every hearing. and certainly there is on something like. is. i would say there was a fair agree of civility. and there were republican members on that committee who are not gun control fans but are quite thoughtful and showed they get the gravity of the moment and are open to rethinking the issue.
>> david corn , let's look at more of former congresswoman gabrielle giffords ' powerful testimony earlier today.
>> speaking is difficult, but i need to say something important. violence is a big problem. too many children are dying. too many children. we must do something. it will be hard, but the time is now. you must act. be bold. be courageous. americans are counting on you. thank you.
>> david , what brought it all home for me, these are the notes that gabrielle giffords wrote herself for her testimony at today's violence hearing. they were posted on the facebook page of her pac americans for responsible solutions. giffords' husband mark kelly cofounded the organization with her. he gave powerful testimony as well today.
>> we believe wholly and completely in the second amendment and that it confers upon all americans the right to own a firearm for protection, collection, and recreation. we take that right very seriously, and we would never, ever give it up just like gabby would never relinquish her gun and i would never relinquish mine. but rights demand responsibility. and this right does not extend to terrorists. it does not extend to criminals. and it does not extend to the mentally ill .
>> one more thing i want you to see. following this morning's testimony, gabby giffords and mark kelly met with president obama in the oval office . so david corn , i show you all that and i ask how can the momentum to the extent that momentum exists right now on the president and the white house side, how can it be maintain snd how do you maintain that level of emotional testimony?
>> well, it was quite an emotional moment watching gabby giffords get up there courageously and her husband who i've met in the past i have to say is damn impressive. he was a hero for going up in the space shuttle and now he's a hero for taking on this hard issue and doing it with such great aplomb. it's important, keep him and gabby giffords and the kids in newtown, keep them in the spotlight. let them have the platform they want. the only way anything happens on the gun violence prevention front is if the intensity level remains on the side of people looking to change the status quo. you know, you know on the side of the nra and extremists on that side, there is already the intensity. it's always been there. they care about this. it's often their top issue. and for those who want to change and have some common sense solutions about high-capacity magazines and other provisions, you've got to fight that intensity with intensity of your own.
>> but i -- you know, i agree with your assessment about the intensity, about the emotion. but still even in the face of it -- and mark you were there, you can speak to this. the nra not giving an inch. wayne lapierre got in a heated exchange with senators durbin and leahy over background checks . and he made clear the nra would not give an inch on that issue. let's watch.
>> we got to get in the real world on what works and what doesn't work. my problem with background checks is you're never going to get criminals to go through universal background checks .
>> mr. lapierre, that's the point. the criminals won't go to purchase the guns because there'll be a background check . we'll stop them from the original purchase. you missed that point completely. i think it's basic.
>> senator, i think you missed --
>> let there be order!
>> i think you're missing it.
>> please wait. as i said earlier, there will be order.
>> and the chair of the judiciary committee patrick leahy also tried to pin down lapierre on the same issue. background checks .
>> should we have mandatory background checks at gun shows?
>> if you're a dealer, that's already the law.
>> that's not my question. i'm not trying to play games here. but if you could, just answer my question.
>> senator, i do not believe the way the law is working now unfortunately, that it does any good to extend the law to private sales between hobbyists and collectors.
>> with all due respect, that was not the question i asked. nor did you answer it.
>> but i think it is the answer.
>> mark glaze, if we can't get it done on background checks where the polling data i see suggests seven in ten americans are supportive, what means assault weapons and clips will be game?
>> everybody should have to pass a background check because they back passed background checks . i would not take this too seriously. this is people staking out their positions. but i think wayne lapierre would find it very hard to stick until the end of this process with the position of rejecting something that 70% or 80% of his base actually thinks is a pretty good idea. so i think we can get background checks done. there's overwhelming support for it. but there's also strong support for a limit on magazines and also for a ban on assault rifles . but your initial question and david 's answer were exactly right. this is only going to happen if the american people make it happen. that means they have to call their representative, they have to write the white house , and they have to get behind the effort to make sure members are hearing about this when they go home to their districts for recess.
>> there was a heart breaking article in today's " washington post " by the parents of daniel barr don who called for action on guns. any improvement to our laws no matter how small or reasonable shall not be decried as the forward wave of an attempt to ban guns or take away rights. even though who have lost the most are suggesting no such thing. that's the argument i hear when i go to radio listeners. it's the slippery slope . if we give an inch on this, they'll come for everything.
>> like if you put a speed limit on the highway, pretty soon they're going to take your car away from you. again, this issue has been demagogued by people just like wayne lapierre and his alleys that any common sense limitation means your gun's going to be swept up by helicopters. one comment they made today over and over again, wayne lapierre and people on his side, is that we already have existed gun laws and they're not being enforced effectively.
>> but one reason why they're not enforced effectively is because the nra and republican senators have time and time again tried to defund and handcuff the bureau of alcohol tobacco and firearms and anything else they can do to get in the way of enforcement. so there is just so much demagoguery and hypocrisy on that side that keeps the flame going, we have to just keep trying to -- like the op-ed you just quote, have to keep dousing those flames to try to get some of these modest limitations.
>> and the epidemic continues. meanwhile gun violence continues day in and day out. just yesterday 15-year-old hadia pendelton shot in a park not far from her high school . she was in washington with her high school band where she performed in the inaugural heritage music festival . mark glaze, another criticism i hear from those that don't want any change to gun laws , if you take all that being discussed and you apply it to the mass shootings that have been so much a part of the news, they would not have prevented those incidents. i'm sure you've heard and deal with that. what's your response?
>> well, it's true in some cases. i mean, no law you pass is ever going to stop killing. there are at least 300 million guns in the country and the nra is largely responsible for that. so it's true you're not going to stop everything, but this is what you do with laws. you close the loopholes you can. by doing that you can make an enormous difference. all these mass shootings are mass because of a high-capacity magazine and assault weapon involved. the tucson shooting probably did happen because loughner's records were not the the criminal background check data base and should have been.
>> mark glaze, thank you. david , i've got to run but thank you as always. we appreciate you being here.
>>> coming up, would president obama rather get a deal done on immigration or let the issue fester who she republicans continue to get run at the polls by latino voters? this is "hardball," the place for politics. textile production in