Morning Joe | February 05, 2013
>>> we know for example from polling universal background checks are universally supported by gun owners . overwhelming majority of gun owners think that's a good idea. if we have lobbyists in washington claiming to speak for gun owners , saying something different, we need to go to the source and reach out to people directly. we can't allow those filters to get in the way of common sense .
>> all right. 45 past the hour. with us now from capitol hill , democratic representative from maryland, congressman elijah cummings and republican representative from virginia, congressman scott ridgell. they're part of a bipartisan bill today to make firearms trafficking a federal crime and make it even harder for any buying guns from any prohibited from buying guns of their own. good to have you on the show.
>> thank you so much. scott , tell me, why do you think it's important to support this piece of legislation?
>> well, what we're treeing to dto -- trying to do, and this bill does, part of putting up an im impenetrable wall on the second amendment. on one side of the law we have our lawful gun owners of which i am one and strong proponent of the second amendment and also to keep the bad guys, criminals from having access to guns. that's basically what this bill does. it surprised me there was not a federal law on our books, federal law that addressed gun trafficking and made it illegal indeed to buy a gun for someone else and to traffic guns. we're addressing that. it's common sense and common ground .
>> elijah , talk about it.
>> this is so very very important. you know, joe , law enforcement came to our committee a while back when we were dealing with fast and furious , as a matter of fact, it didn't ask for a trafficking law, they begged for it. they said they wanted to be more effective and efficient. there is no federal trafficking law. they want to make sure that the criminals do not get their hands on guns. what this legislation will do is it will make it much tougher, increase the penalties and actually create a law against trafficking of guns. so -- this is something, by the way, that just about every single law enforcement agency and organization, just about every prosecutor, they want these tools, pause they tell because they tell us, you all are paying us a lot of money to do our jobs, now give us the tools to effectively do the jobs. i think this is what they will do. i'm excited about the fact republicans and democrats, for the first time in the house, we're coming together, not just on common ground , joe , but i say, we are on higher ground because that's what this is all about.
>> real, quick, elijah , good to see you. tell us how this affects urban areas , you and i are from urban areas , baltimore respectively, mayor bloomberg trying to limit the number of handguns on the streets and this has an impact in urban areas , if it passes. am i reading that right?
>> you're right. it will have a tremendous impact. there's a georgia case that shows a fellow down in georgia who's a convicted felon, gets a neighbor, a girlfriend to buy a lot of guns, 64 guns in 2 1/2 mont months. he couldn't buy them, he gets her to buy them. what does he do? he sends all of those guns to oakland, which has a much stricter, much stricter gun regulations. the next thing you know, the police find those guns at various crime scenes . in other words, basically, what this law will do is say, look, anybody who's thinking about buying a gun for someone who is prohibited from having a gun, that is, criminals, they will be possibly subjected to a 20 year penalty. those are the kinds of things -- we keep hearing folks say -- everybody agrees criminals should not have guns, this is a way to make sure it does not happen.
>> gentlemen, wondering what the vote count looks like to you all at this point. i know it's early. what do you consider -- where are you starting on a bill like this? what -- to stay within the metaphor, how many ducks are there you have to hunt for in terms of democrats or defecting republicans?
>> i think to the extent our colleagues really understand what this bill does, they will have enough support to get it through the house and get it over to the senate. i really think what we need to do is change the culture in america. we did this about 30 plus years ago with drunk driving . we got tired of all the deaths. though we haven't solved the problem completely. we did, in my adult life- time change the culture of america drunk. what we're doing with this bill is saying it's not okay to buy a gun for somebody else. about 40% of all straw purchasers don't serve any jailtime at all. again, i'm a lifetime nra member. i was well before i ever decided to run for office. a strong defender of the second amendment. but this does not infringe upon the rights of lawful gun owners in any way. so i think there's common ground here. it certainly is common sense .
>> congressman, you are one of the few republicans in the house to speak out publicly in favor any of measures at the federal level to deal with gun control . as you talk to other republican members of the dhourks you hear people say privately i'd like to talk out more but i feel pressure from the nra or local constituents not to?
>> well, this is going to be co-sponsored right from the get-go by congressman pat meehan out of pennsylvania. he's a republican. the key, as elijah and i were talking about before we came on air here, is folks need to really understand what the bill does and what it does not do. if we're going to move to some type of universal registration and connecting gun owners with the guns themselves and the database and all that, i'm going to have some problems with that. but we'll address that another day. for now zee some common ground and need to move it forward.
>> what about universal background checks , something that wayne lapierre supported in 1999 but now he's against it. do you have any problems with universal background checks , scott ?
>> well, i think the key is, you know, what we're focusing on today is something we really can move forward. i do have a problem with the ability of the federal government to tie in a gun owner with a weapon. i think that's a real problem with me personally. that's a more difficult issue, joe , to be very candid with you here. and we'll get to that and work through it. but this is common ground . we're excited about it. it's got bipartisan support. i think we'll have bicameral support, and i hope we can get it through.
>> joe , let me say this. one of the things i'm concerned about, a lot of times when we have disagreements we concentrate on the disagreement but we don't concentrate on the agreement. and then we end up doing nothing, absolutely nothing.
>> we cannot stay -- when you look at what happened at sandy hook , we simply -- it was a wake-up call to this country. now hopefully we'll get this through and then we'll look at perhaps other things. but right now we're concentrating on this because we know we can get it done.
>> i understand that, elijah . listen, i am so thankful for scott , that scott is stepping out. it's not an easy thing to do, even though he's a pro gun guy to do something common sense like this. in virginia it shows 92% of virginians support background checks . but there are concerns about, it's one thing to have universal background check but then does that follow the gun owner and the gun wherever they go. most virginians do not support a registration system that would, again, trace gun owners to guns. we'll just leave it there. thank you.
>> congressman cummings, thank you.
>> i think it's important for all americans. elijah , good see you again.
>> twowonderful to see you.
>> joe , thanks for speaking out on this issue. elijah talked about coming together and rising above. that's what elijah and i did when we worked together.
>> we certainly did and passed some wonderful legislation.
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>> that's easy for you to say.
>> why? no, i'm having a hard time .