Martin Bashir | February 06, 2013
>>> if we as a people don't act after sandy hook , then we as a people are broken.
>> doing nothing will fail. doing nothing has failed.
>> i'm just here to support the president of the united states .
>> there's nothing quite so serious as a comedian who isn't laughing. and that was the scene in washington today as chris rock , tony bennett , and amanda pete joined democratic mayors and congressmen in calling for action to curb the pandemic of gun violence . in just the last 24 hours a woman and two children were shot and killed in denver this morning. in las vegas two men were hospitalized after being shot in the lobby of a movie theater . and in detroit one man is dead and another wounded after being shot near a house allegedly frequented by drug dealers . joining us now is democratic strategist julian epstein and msnbc political analyst, professor michael dyson . we've all had to witness the black humor of wayne lapierre over the last few weeks. but here's a black comedian on this.
>> you don't need gun control . we need bullet control. we need to control the bullets. that's right. i think all bullets should cost $5,000. $5,000. you know why? because if it costs $5,000, there'd be no more innocent bystanders.
>> when even comedians and crooners like tony bennett are begging for action, are you becoming more optimistic that the nation is prepared now to do something substantive on this issue?
>> well, i am. i'm hopeful at least. optimism may be a shallow virtue fair compared to hope. but i think the evidence is growing in line with people's sentiments across this nation who are simply fed up. we want common sense gun control . we want a president who uses his bul bully pulpit to talk about the disregard of common sense for those people who are promoting, you know, the loud and vigilant and aggressive no holds barred approach to guns. the nra has to be brought into line here. most americans think we want to protect the second amendment. we don't want to undermine it, but at the same time we want to have common sense approaches here that allow people to say yes enough is enough. and when chris rock and tony bennett and amanda pete come together and forge a connection, i think that sends a powerful message to the nation that yes, this message is getting a broad hearing and people should pay attention.
>> julian , to that point, while the nra says even background checks are not worth the time of day, take a look at what the public is saying. a new poll says that 39% of voters are less likely to support a candidate if they're endorsed by the nra . julian , are we weech reaching a tipping point in terms of the nra and its power and influence over politicians and the nation?
>> we are reaching a tipping point. the politics have changed. the question is whether the people that want to do something can overcome the obstructionism by the republicans and the congress who are clearly going against the majority will here. and i just want to underscore a point i made the other day which is that i think right now even the o ent pos are conceding we could get background checks . they can't stop that. because 90% of americans support that. but there is a merging amongst democrats, a path of least resistance wisdom that background checks are all that we can get. that's unfortunate because background checks as important as they are, would not stop the massacre in newtown. they would not have stopped the massacre in aurora. they would probably not have stopped the massacre at virginia tech . the idea that we now with the numbers you're citing would begin to see the argument. that even though 50% to 60% of americans want action on clips and assault weapons, chris rock said we should be looking at other ways like taxing bullets and ammunition to stop the mayhem we have. 30,000 gun related homicides each year. the gun industry makes maybe a billion dollars in profits but public health professionals would tell you 30,000 homicides are costing this country stens of billions of dollars a year. this is a huge economic crisis as well. i think the fact the democrats would not be talking about ceding the ground.
>> publishes its list of most wanted enemies. if you haven't seen it, it's well worth taking a look. here's a quick sample. first you've got leonard nimoy whose ears are suspiciously like the president's. then you've got lou gossett jr . then there's henry winkler . can you tell me, is an organization like the nra on the right track when they're more frightened of the fonz than of firearms?
>> it's all messed up. it better be scared of lou gossett jr . and leonard nimoy , he's just out of this world. the reality is this. the nra is focusing on minutia. what jesus said in the bible, you're schoeking on the small stuff and swallowing whole hogs so to speak. the big stuff here. i think the nra has to come to its senses. being obsessed with the list it puts out. the blacklist of the people who don't comport with them or go along with their values is nonsense. we are all americans . we are just upset with the way things are going. we are fed up with this. the billions of dollars made by the gun industry should be more than enough compensation for sacrificing just a little. not of its rights but of its responsibility to make sure those who have the guns are acting responsibly and we don't have in the hands of criminals machinery and weaponry that will outmatch or overmatch the police people who are hired to protect us. why can't we get some sensible stuff on this? because the gun lobby is so profoundly in control of its own agenda and it asserts it. i think julian is right. if the democrats cave in on this, it's a tragedy and a shame. because now is the time when the wind is behind them and beneath their wings that they've got to have enough courage and chutzpah.
>> not everybody can be on the enemy's list. if you look at who are behind the president. it's not just the celebrities. i wouldn't be surprised if you're on the enemies list .
>> i believe i am.
>> i'd imagine. it's parents groups, most of the public behind it. at some point this enemies list is absurd. i think while it's important as i said for democrats in the congress not just to focus on background checks but on the other things that are important, it's also important that we see action can occur at the state and local level. we talked several weeks ago about taking action against irresponsible gun manufacturers. consumers can take action on dealers like walmart and others. so there's lots of things that can be done here to change the politics. but i think your central point is that the politics on this thing, the tide is changing, the nra sand castles are quickly blowing out to sea.
>> julian epstein and professor michael eric dyson . thank you, gentlemen.