Up | December 09, 2012
>>> hello from new york. i'm steve in for chris hayes who will be here later this hour interviewing a man. right now, we have with us mike from national public radio , neera, stephen barton , survivor of the aurora, colorado movie theater shooting, now a gun control advocate. we were talking before the break about the idea of the proprietary of talking guns in the wake of a gun tragedy. for the last decade or so, it's where the gun control has been. once in awhile, there's a horrific tragedy. someone says we should have gun control and then a discussion of whether we should have gun control . it wasn't that long ago when gun control was a political debate . featured prominently in national campaigns and statewide campaigns. i want to talk about what it was like back then. the best way to kick it off, there's an extraordinary clip in hind site from 19 years ago to the day. there was a railroad, maybe you remember it all. the day after that, bill clinton talked to the press. he's president of the united states , i look at this and say i can't imagine barack obama or any politician doing this.
>> the gun that was used contained two 15-round clips. this man in a manic state was walking down the subway aisle and one of the reasons we ought to pass the crime bill is senator feinstein's amendment to limit assault weapons would make the 15-round clips illegal. they are not necessary for hunting or sports. i hope that this will give more to the need to act urgently to deal with the unnecessary problems of gun violence in the country.
>> so, he's making an explicit call for legislation in response to a gun tragedy. it's worth pointing out. the only thing that barack obama has done on guns was make it easier to carry them in national parks . that is basically his record on guns for the last four years. david, you look at that, look at clinton and where we are right now. it's been more than a decade since columbine. are you at all optimistic about guns becoming an issue in politics?
>> my optimism comes and goes. it had been low but it's starting to work its way up a little bit. that makes me depressed saying 15 rounds. he had 100 rounds?
>> yeah. the shooting in aurora, yeah.
>> what strikes me about that is coming up with reasonable ideas and reasonable sounding ideas that everyone can sort of agree on and sort of maybe chip away at this thing. i think one of the problems tactically, gun control people get into is after each tragedy trying to make a big push. okay, because of this, we had aurora. a bunch of people died. it was horrible. nothing can happen that quickly. it's not going to happen in a couple weeks or month. it's just not going to happen. we need a gradual steady build and things like bloomburg 's project and these other things working their way up. it's not going to happen because of one tragedy.
>> i want to talk about it in a minute. from a media standpoint because the media plays a role in the conversation. from the media standpoint, the media needs national figures out there making this case and part of the debate so they have something to report on. it seems to me that's the biggest thing missing.
>> let's talk about the conversation about the conversation. first of all, bob costas got criticism because he's a broadcaster. an nfl game is a presidential debate . where someone can speak to audiences who don't normally get that point of view. there are a lot of people watching the football games saying what is this guy talking gun control ? i never hear this. that's why people push back. it strikes me, we need to talk about it less anecdotely. let's debate if he would have killed someone if he only had a knife. let's talk columbine or aurora. what about the suicide rates ? forget each individual shooting. suicide is so much higher because people do it with guns. it strikes me, we blame the power of the nra . there have been a lot of mass movements with powerful opponents. civil rights , prohibition. no one said we can't have this debate, the other side is too powerful. the difference is, in those debates, it was an ongoing discussion. now, when you tell people, let's talk gun control , the people for gun control , it's even. it strikes a cord in their head. oh, yeah, we should do that. it's an abstract contract. when you say gun control , he thinks of the gun, he can access his emotions more readily. it's more of an emotional issue. it's present and prevalent among the gun owners .
>> that's right. i think the passion here is often disproportionate. the noise we hear in the media, the date that sticks out in my mind, the debate to me was 2000 . look at the clinton clip and the record of the clinton administration on guns in the 1990s . what happened in 2000 , al gore lost the presidency. democrats freaked out because he lost the states clinton carried. kentucky, west virginia , missouri, tennessee, his home state. how many jokes did he suffer about losing his home state. he walked away saying we don't want to talk guns because we don't want to alienate them anymore. there's john kerry going goose hunting . 2000 was a turning point. was that about right?
>> yeah, i agree. i think that, you know, people, these things become folklore. the one thing that is important to remember about this issue is that, you know, we did a -- we did work this summer on polling national right to life , nra members themselves. they buck the nra on these issues. they believe in common sense control and safety and a host of issues. there becomes this concern that there's a group. my point is it's not as powerful as people think it is. it's important to make that point. the nra went into conservative states and went after democratic senators and endorsed their opponents and the democratic senators still won. live with that example. you can take posture here and you can win. i think that's what's important about bloomberg's effort to destroy that myth. it's -- he's been successful. he just started but hopefully he'll play a bigger role.
>> let's talk about that. it's an element that's been missing. a political figure that stood up to make it his issue and decided i'm going to throw money behind this. the money is so important. there hasn't been progun control money for awhile. can you tell us what it is you are doing to try to advance this?
>> i mean, i would say our biggest priority right now, you spoke about polling on gun control being evenly divided. when you ask more specifically, not abstractly about gun control , for example, having a background check for every gun sale. 74% of nra gun members support that measure. that speaks to the point exactly. the leadership of the nra is not in line with membership. so, when, you know, you try to pursue opportunities like that where there is common ground , introducing bills that essentially put that into place. currently, 40% of guns are sold privately in this country. that means under federal law , they don't require background check . it's like having two lines in airport security , one with a metal detector and one without one. so, that i would say is our biggest priority right now, extending the background check system. beyond that, as you mentioned, countering the nra with financial resources. giving cover to politicians who want to speak about this issue.
>> that's the other question. bloomburg is out there doing it. can anybody think -- i'm asking because i can't think of names out there. who are the major names out there? are there major names you are looking to for leadership to join bloomburg and make it more than a one-man band? anybody think of anybody?
>> i think the truth is, you need to change the politics of this and then that will build support among political leaders . you just had an example where he went into an election, he defeated the nra member out in california. you know, the democrat beat that. there was two democrats, but the person who is more in favor. we live with those examples, more political leaders . the president did speak more about these issues and the need for common sense steps after aurora. we can look at and we should look at, you know, pushing him on these issues in the second term.
>> the nra spent the last four years warning of the second obama term. we are going to see the real obama gun control . a lot of people are saying let's see that guy. he's got four years.
>> stephen barton , thanks so much for being here today.
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