The Last Word | January 30, 2013
>>> too many children are dying. too many children. you must act. be bold, be courageous, americans are counting on you. thank you.
>> former congresswoman gabrielle giffords , the victim of a gun massacre using a high-capacity magazine was the first to speak at the senate hearing on gun violence today. she was helped out of the hearing room -- after her short introduction, and then succeeded in her testimony by her husband, mark kelly . wayne lapierre , the milli --
>> my problem with background checks , you're never going to get criminals to go through universal background checks . all the law abiding people, you create an enormous federal bureaucracy. and we're not going to prosecute the bad guys if they do catch one. none of it makes any sense in the real world .
>> mr. lapierre, that is the point. the criminals won't go to purchase the guns because there will be a background check . we'll stop them from the purchase. you missed that point completely.
>> senator, i think you missed --
>> let there be order.
>> senator patrick leahy , the chairman of the committee, pointed out the last time he testified about this his testimony was the exact opposite.
>> we think it should be mandatory for background checks at every gun sale, no loopholes for anyone. in fact it is the media's well-kept secret, they were the supporter of the check list now in place. we think it is reasonable to provide for instant gun checks at shows just like at gun stores and pawn shops.
>> what happened between 1999 and now? for one thing, the tea party happened. people with even more extremist positions on several issues than the national rifle association . people flagrantly brandishing their second amendment rights at political events, specifically gun toting events for president obama , showing up in campaign events in new hampshire and elsewhere, with their guns on display. and it was the gun rights groups trying to out do the nra with more inflammatory retroactive, today, wayne lapierre and the nra were determined not to allow any gun rights fanaticics to sound crazier than wayne lapierre . joining me now, msnbc's krystal ball, and krystal , it seems to me that the tea party has had its effect on the nra , nudging them even further into the crazy season.
>> yes, it seems to be. the nra is an elitist group, sending out the anecdotes, what you heard gail trotter remark about, they questions their membership that obama and the democrats want to come for their guns. and that has worked for a long time. but what we're seeing now, i think what we're seeing today is the death of a caricature, that stuff worked for so long. but what are we talking about? assault weapons ban , background checks for everyone. all of that makes reasonable sense to a lot of people, including a lot of nra members.
>> frank smyth, take us through the journey that the nra traveled through, from 1999 , taking a fairly reasonable position to where they are now. today, wayne lapierre 's testimony, absolutely no law of any kind, the nra is opposed to anything anyone will propose.
>> you have to remember, the nra was a moderate legislation in favor of gun control for most of its history through the late 19th century and right through most of the 20th century . including backing legislation in 1934 , and 1968 , in favor of gun control . i think what happened in 1999 , was that wayne lapierre was under pressure. and i think the nra was concerned that a law was going to be passed that theo y -- opposed. so they made a law in favor of background checks . i think there was a back lash that said you never should make a tactical decision, you should stand for principles, and i think it explains his apparent flip-flopping between '99 and today. and the other thing to remember is that wayne lapierre is not the leader, per se , of the national rifle association . he leads at the behest of the board. and i think right now there is a great deal of turmoil, for reasons that krystal discussed, because of the pressure that we've seen for gun control in this country.
>> let's listen to a point that dick durbin made.
>> we need the fire power and the ability to protect -- ourselves from our government, from the police if they knock on our doors and we need to fight back, do you agree with that point of view?
>> if you look at why the founding fathers put it there, they lived under the tyranny, and didn't want to live under tyranny.
>> chief johnson, you have heard it. the belief that the nra as a second amendment has to give the americans the fire power to fight against you, against our government.
>> frank this is the point you make, the nra 's position now is that citizens need the fire power that matches the heavier fire power of the police and the military.
>> look, lapierre has written that himself and said it himself a number of times, whenever he is in front of a sympathetic forum, last week at the nevada seminar, he called the second amendment freedom's most valuable, most cherished idea. clearly, the rhetoric, the absolutist if not extremist rhetoric of the national rifle association seems to be catching up with them.
>> krystal ball and frank smyth, thank you for joining us.
>> my pleasure.
>>> coming up, hillary clinton says she just can't see herself getting back into politics. but andrea mitchell can, which is why she asked hillary clinton if she would challenge joe biden in the democratic primary . you will see the answer to that question coming up.