Martin Bashir | February 21, 2013
>>> today we will talk about specific action that we must take as a nation to make sure that there are no more newtowns.
>> senator richard blumenthal , democrat of connecticut, spoke at a conference on gun violence in his state today. he was joined by other political leaders like vice president jooit who reaffirmed his commitment to reforming this nation's gun laws .
>> we can't remain silent. we have to speak for all those voices. we have to speak for those 20 beautiful children who died 69 days ago 12 miles from here.
>> if only everyone who wields influence on capitol hill had so much resolve. john mccain was caught making this statement to the mother of a young man killed in the aurora shooting, a mother who asked him about the proposed ban on assault weapons .
>> i can tell you right now you need some straight talk . that assault weapons ban will not pass the congress of the united states . [ applause ]
>> of course, that wasn't straight talk at all. senator mccain was just parroting talking points from the gun lobby . but he might have shown a little more respect for a woman whose son's life was taken and, therefore, couldn't be there himself. let's bring in mark glaze, director of mayors against guns and professor james peterson of lehigh university . thanks to both of you. mark, there are all these naysayers who tell us there's no way to win this fight. they even say that to the mothers of victims of shootings. what do you think though, mark, the victims themselves would say to people like senator mccain and the naysayers because isn't it time we started standing up for the very people who because they have been murdered have no voice in this discussion?
>> well, we agree and many of the folks whose family members were murdered or who were themselves shot at the congress on your corner event with congresswoman giffords are people we work with every day. we just flew in about a dozen of them a couple week ago to go to the white house to lobby their members of congress, to meet with senator mccain 's staff, and, of course, they more than anybody else, had a right to demand not just talk but a little bit of action. now, i want to be fair to senator mccain . the fact is the last time a controversial gun bill passed in the senate, it was a mccain measure to close the gun show loophole. we need much more now and the senator has actually said good things about expanding the background check system. so i don't want to get too focused on --
>> he sounds as though he's regressing. he doesn't sound very confident.
>> well you know what? he may be talking about his political asassment that passing an assault weapons ban through the house and senate may be harder which i think is just true.
>> professor, there are so many naysayers but also a lot of otherwise reasonable elected officials who are too intimidated by the gun lobby . let's hear what the vice president had to say to them. take a listen.
>> i say to my colleagues who will watch this and listen to this, i say to you if you're concerned about your political survival, you should be concerned about the survival of our children and guess what? i believe the price to be paid politically to those who refuse to act, who refuse to step forward.
>> as a scholar, professor, how do you imagine future generations of americans will look back on people like senator mccain who appear to care more about the right to own guns than the rights of children to attend school without meeting someone armed with an assault weapon ?
>> yeah. i feel like we'll look back in history at this particular congress, both the house and the senate, at this particular moment where the president has been re-elected by this diverse coalition, and we'll come to a much better understanding that this congress is not representative of this nation. not in its vupt viewpoints. the real straight talk from mr. mccain is that congress people are bought and sold by lobbyists all day every day. that's straight talk . if he would have said that to the woman whose son was lost in the aurora massacre, i would have a lot more respect for what he's talking about. at the end the day we have to have a public dialogue that can be more encouraging for your elected officials . if we go the route mccain is talking about, there's no pressure on them to ignore the lobbyists or push back against the lobbyists that are controlling the ways in which they're voting. the only reason we can say there's not going to be a ban is because the lobbyists are controlling too much of what's going on in the capitol.
>> let's talk about the cost of doing nothing. just in the last 24 hours , police near dallas have reported that a 3-year-old boy was shot in the head and killed in what appeared to be an accidental death . there's no word yet on who fired the fatal shot but police say that both of the child's patients we parents were at home at the time. in chicago a 41-year-old man was shot three times and rushed to the hospital for surgery and this morning on the las vegas strip a gunman in a black range rover opens fires on a maserati sending that vehicle crashing into a taxi that burst into flames, three people killed, six injured. are we supposed to face every day with this kind of violence and say, well, nothing is going to change about the assault weapons . we can't do anything with the size of magazine clips. we can't do much about the gun show loophole. we probably can't do anything about these straw purchases? is that how we're supposed to approach this?
>> those are the right questions and part of the reason this moment is so special is that people who have been doing this work understand it's not just the mass shootings that are so horrible that they capture the nation's attention for a while. 33 americans are murdered in this country every day in places and with names you never hear about, most often with handguns, and many more than that are killed with accidental shootings and through suicides. so the difference is people like you were talking about this every day now and you're starting to hear about these previously isolated incidents and we think that's going to keep the drum beat up until congress realizes they have to act even if they don't want to.
>> finally professor peterson, one more thing about this cover frens today, the gun lobby was not invited to participate in the proceedings. but i ask, what do you think would have happened if they were allowed to attend? what would their contribution have been given that we've heard wayne lapierre say background checks are a complete waste of time?
>> exactly, martin. again, i think vice president biden if you go back to his shotgun comments is interested in having second amendment folk at the table but mr. lapierre, the way he's availed himself at every opportunity to speak publicly since the newtown tragedy has been such that we're regressing in terms of the discourse. he's not being respectful, sensitive, or sensible about the things that we need to be talking about with the inspection and a information and data we have now.
>> gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us this afternoon.