msnbc | December 12, 2012
>> this is all raising a lot of questions, the issue of gun control in this country and joining me now live is dan gross, president of both the brady campaign to prevent gun violence and its sister organization, the brady center to prevent gun violence . dan , good to have you here. as we learn more details specifically about what took place in this latest incident less than 24 hours ago, the law enforcement officials telling nbc news the weapon used at the town center mall in portland was a 223 caliber semiautomatic rifle similar to that of an ar-15. it had a high capacity magazine and it seems that time after time when we're talking about these situations, that semiautomatic rifles are involved in shooting rampages like this one. when we think back to not that long ago to aurora, colorado, and also gabbi giffords in january 2011 . then we had the domestic gun violence situation with the football player, jovan belcher, just a couple weeks ago. why can't we get the weapons specifically like what's being described that was used in this incident most recently in portland off the streets?
>> yeah. you know, it's a good question. it's a good conversation and it's a conversation that the american public wants to have. the american public, we know that as a nation, we are better than this and we don't want to live in a country that has shootings in malls and movie theaters and places of worship but we also don't want to live in a country where there are 32 murders every day and whether you hunt, whether you believe in the second amendment , nobody wants to live in that kind of country. we just need to reframe this whole conversation and have it in the context of what can we do to prevent all the tragedies that happen, taking assault weapons off the street is clearly an important conversation to have. but so is the fact that 40% of all gun sales in our country don't have background checks . so people that are convicted felons, convicted domestic abusers, dangerously mentally ill and god forbid terrorists are able to get guns without any background check . this is the kind of thing, these are solutions that the overwhelming majority of americans support because, you know, we know as a country we're better than this. it's why we've started this campaign, this website, we are better than this.org, for the american public to really make its voice heard on this issue. because it's very clear until we do, our elected officials are unlikely to take action.
>> let's talk about the elected officials on this, because prior to this shooting and the news of it happening, senator lindsey graham was on cnn talking about how he owns eight guns. take a listen.
>> why should my constitutional right be limited because you don't understand why i want eight guns?
>> why do you want eight guns?
>> because i enjoy shooting. i hunt. it's something my dad and i did together in the south as part of growing up. if my individual rights under the constitution are limited by the sensibility of others, i don't have a whole lot of rights.
>> so when we talk about the rights of gun ownership , second amendment rights in this country, the conversation is more about these assault weapons , these high capacity magazine clips that probably the senator doesn't need to go hunting deer or rabbit or whatever he's trying to track down there in south carolina , or anybody else, for that matter. so when we talk about the fact that elected leaders need to get a better understanding of this, even after having one almost assassinated in january of 2011 on a congress on your corner event at the local supermarket, if that's not going to get anybody's attention in washington, d.c., what is?
>> the american people are going to get our elected officials ' and our leaders' attention. i'm so glad you played that clip, because i watched it and it just made me nuts, as it made anybody who is educated on this issue, because it's based on this flawed assumption that any conversation about what we can do from a policy perspective is infringement on second amendment rights. listen, the second amendment has been decided. it's been decided in the heller case. there is a right to own guns in our country and we need to respect that. the fact is, there are things we can do with a deep inherent respect for the second amendment and lindsey graham 's love of hunting and love of shooting and his belief in the second amendment to save lives and prevent tragedies and just to cut off that conversation just in the name of, you know, it's an infringement on my rights, it's irresponsible leadership, actually. you know, there are things that we can do to prevent many of the 32 gun murders that happen every day without doing anything contradictory to the second amendment . the american public wants to have that conversation. this is a frank luntz poll, 74% of nra members support criminal background checks . because nra members like average americans realize that that has nothing to do with the right of a law-abiding citizen to responsibly own a gun. these are the terms on which we have to have this conversation. and we need to hold people like lindsey graham accountable for making statements like that, that automatically equate any sensible conversation in our country about gun laws with second amendment rights because that's not an accurate portrayal of the conversation.
>> dan gross, president of the brady campaign to prevent gun violence , great to have you on. thank you, sir.