msnbc | February 12, 2013
>>> right now, members of hadiya pendleton's families are attending a senate hearing on ways to reduce gun violence in america . the judiciary committee is hearing from law enforcement on how to strike a balance between security and the second amendment. meanwhile, tonight's state of the union address is giving some lawmakers a way to keep pressure on their colleagues to pass gun control legislation. more than a dozen are bringing people who have been affected by gun violence , for example, house minority leader, nancy pelosi is bringing a little girl from newtown. in gun violence and a gun violence roundtable in philadelphia yesterday, vice president joe biden said the government isn't after anybody's guns.
>> no one, no one, no one who legitimately owns a gun has any worry about their constitutional rights being violated. none. zero. none.
>> joining me right now is democratic congressman, james langevin of rhode island , along with the man he's bringing to the address tonight, jim tyler , whose sister was a victim of gun violence . gentleman, it's good to have you here. congressman, i want to start with you. obviously, this is a personal quest for you for those who may not know your back story, your spinal cord was severed by a bullet when you were just 16 years old, as a junior police cadet , in an accidental shooting of a semiautomatic pistol. you've now asked several of the lawmakers to bring victims of gun violence to tonight's speech. what are your hopes? what are your expectations, by doing this? by asking your colleagues to bring a victim of gun violence this evening?
>> well, you're right. this is a very personal issue for me, any time we talk about gun-related issues. my accident was an accident. it didn't happen, thankfully, because of violence. but for all of the people that are here, that are passionate about this issue, it is a very personal issue. and i give great credit to all the families who are coming down here today to share their personal story about how gun violence has affected their lives directly. and i believe that lawmakers now, members of the house and senate, need to show the same kind of courage that the victims or those who have have been affected profoundly by gun violence are in sharing their stories. we need to have responsible gun safety legislation passed in this country, that bans assault weapons , that bans these high-capacity gun magazines, that hold 30 or 100 rounds of ammunition, that are weapons of war, that have no other purpose other than to kill people in large numbers, at high rates. and we also need to pass universal background checks , to make sure that any time someone is buying a weapon in this country, whether it's at a gun dealer , which, of course, is already the law of the land , or at a gun show or in a private sale, that a background check is conducted, to make sure that that person that's buying the weapon can legally do so.
>> congressman, i want to talk to jim real quickly. i see him standing next to you with this picture of his sister, debbie. he was killed during a robbery at a convenience store that she owned in providence. for the past nine years, as i understand it, jim, you've ran a golf tournament to raise money for the institute of the study and practice of nonviolence. so if you could speak directly to resistant members of congress right now, what would you want to tell them about why you want to see gun violence and new legislation enacted?
>> you know, it's a terrible thing happened in my family, i'm just trying to turn a negative that happened in my family into a positive one. i come down here to help support mr. langevin on this gun control control. the institute for the study and support of nonviolence has been a big support for my family. people who get through this tragedy, you know, that happened in our family, and hopefully it doesn't have to happen to another family.
>> one thing that we've seen is, there has been some tough opposition on the democratic senatorial side of the hill. and we have heard from senator jon tester of montana and his reasons why he might be opposed. take a listen.
>> i think in montana, we look at guns more as a tool, not unlike a pickup truck or a stove. the fact is, it's part of what we grew up with. but there's a fair number of folks out there, when it comes to guns, that are concerned that any sort of ban is the first step to a bigger ban.
>> congressman, how do you debate that argument?
>> well, i certainly respect and support the second amendment and individuals' right to bear arms, but we have to make sure that we, that those who own weapons are legally able to do so, and they're not one of the secluded categories that would not be able to legally own a weapon and a criminal or someone who has some form of mental illness that would prevent them from owning a weapon, because it would be a danger to them or others. i believe we can strike a balance, protecting the legitimate rights of lawful gun owners , and most people who do own weapons are lawful gun owners , as are gun dealers who sell these weapons. but there are that category of people who get their hands on weapons and they shouldn't have their hands on weapons, because they, again, have a criminal background or for some other reason prevented from doing so. and i believe in those cases, universal background checks are necessary. and i give great credit to people like jim tyler . i'm so glad he's here along with all these other victims who are going to share their personal stories with lawmakers to make sure we keep this issue front and center and this is personal for these folks.
>> gentleman, thank you so much, rhode island congressman, james langevin and jim tyler , i really appreciate your time.