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tv   Overheard With Evan Smith  PBS  November 1, 2014 4:30pm-5:01pm PDT

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>> funding for overheard with evan smith is provided in part by mfi foundation, improving the quality of life within our community. and from the texas board of legal specialization, board certified attorneys in your community, experienced, respected, and tested. also by hilco partners, texas government affairs consultancy, and its global healthcare consulting business unit, hilco health. and by the alice claybergness reynolds foundation and viewers like you. thank you have. i'm evan smith. he's a retired astronaut and decorated naval officer who with his wife. former congresswoman gabriel give orders has become one of the most famous advocates for gun violence prevention. he's mark kelly. this is overheard.
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>> commander about to see you. >> great to be here. >> thanks so much for having -- making the time to be here. >> you're we welcome. how is congresswoman give orders. >> she's doing great. she's in a great mood. she's working hard every single day. i often the last thing before she will go off to therapy is fight, fight, fight. >> that's wonderful. >> she's get getting better all the time. >> it's amazing she has made the progress she has. honestly it has called attention to what you would never want in a million years to be the way that you get to a good thing but in some respects it has got us
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to a place where we're having an open conversation with the role of guns in this country. >> we got to hope that there's some positive steps are taken. you know since new town, you know which we're coming up pretty quickly on a year, so far you know the national response to that tragedy is pretty much to do nothing. >> why? >> you know, i think it's complicated. it has a lot to do with how politics work in washington d.c. there's been a very effective, you know lobby, the gun lobby who, you got to give them credit has done a fantastic job of building influence in washington. they've got a very good job over the last 30 years. >> reports. nra's demise has been exaggerated. >> yeah, they do some things really well and some things that are great for this country. you know gun safety and teaching people how to be responsible gun owners in some regard. but it's been at least with regards to the politics in d.c.
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it's been quite out of balance. you know. the gun lobby pends an enormous amount of money every election cycle. because of that you have members of congress that i believe feel differently about the poll chris then what they're vote might reflect. so that's something we have to work on. >> you think that privately removed or divorced from electoral consequences -- >> absolutely. >> we're in an era, the ted cruise speech on the senate floor and the consequences of that as the best example, we're in an era in which we're hearing politics need to listen to the voters more. make d.c. listen was the twitter hash tag associated with the government shut down. >> the polls all show that the public is for a aggressive background checks. they're for a ban on assault weapons. they're for a ban on high capacity magazines. they're the voters overwhelmingly across the country, the polls would suggest
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there's support out in the world for this kind of legislation, let me clarify that. so you're right with regards to the background checks. you know nation wide expanding background checks to the internet, gun shows, private sales gets about 90 to 92 percent. even in states like the state of texas, i think it's in the 70s. you know, 70 percent. it's hard to get 70 percent of people in the united states to grow on anything. >> right. >> but you also mentioned you know limited on high capacity magazines and assault weapons, that doesn't have the same kind of support. >> but commander it's about 50 percent, though. >> well, i think it's closer to 50 percent. >> right. >> so you know, back in april, we tried to do something, you know congress tried -- some members of congress tried to expand background checks to more sales. to the 40 percent of gun sales that are currently done without a background check. it failed. it failed because of the politics, not the policy. so that's what our organization
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is working on. >> a month later are we likely to see such legislation given the political climate that we're in significantly more polarized divided,. >> i think eventually. i don't think -- not right now. you know, i think if you bring up the same bill today, it's maybe to get a vote or two more, it probably wouldn't pass and then you have the house can be a little bit fickle on certain things at times. this is going to take some more work but i think over time our organization is -- we formed this to provide a little balance in washington. >> right. >> on the political side of this to give members of congress, you know, the -- to make them comfortable thinking they can vote for this and it doesn't necessarily cost them their job. >> yeah. >> you know, a lot of members of congress unfortunately think a lot about their next elections. a lot of them. i'm not saying everybody. >> but some.
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>> there's everydays that a lot of them do. >> right, the failure of this legislation you put at the feet of congress. do you feel like this should have been more add soak asy on behalf of this legislation from the whitous or from people outside that would have perhaps put more pressure and in turn got ebb the votes or is this entirely an up or down vote in congress. i find out this is congressing doing. >> well, with this bill it started with the senate. it had to pass the senate. so it's a matter of us as an organization being effective and we're 10 months old and we worked really hard. unfortunately, it failed. you know, maybe, after the next election cycle, after the 2,014 elections, you know we'll see. we've some some change in the senate and the house. >> yeah. >> and we'll make another everyority at this and other things. with regards to the increase incidents of mass shootings that we've seen in this country, you know, mental illness, is a big part of this.
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i want to come to that because some people who oppose this legislation say that any efforts should be directed in any direction and not infringing -- >> it's a complicated issue. this isn't just one reason why we have 15 to 20 times the death rate from guns as any other industrialized country. immersion the countries that we compare to we shouldn't be on that list. so it's complicated. so it has to be addressed in a comprehensive manner. >> seriously. >> yeah,. >> it's interesting that in the wake of the new town shooting, i mean, the legislation was brought up and examined and voted on all the way through congress in the wake of a historically horrific incident. you hate to wish for this but in the absence of that, how is there going to be the same -- i have to imagine that the motivation no pass this ebbs ever more as you get farther and farther out from the last one of those.
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>> well, unfortunately, you know, i pray everyday that we don't have any new town or another aaura. hopefully that was the last one. it never happens again. and we don't have to bring this up. unfortunately, e- the reality is that if we don't make a change, why would you get a different outcome. you just couldn't. i think we will see these things happen again. since then we've had the navy yard incident. by wait it happened a block from where gabby used to live in washington. >> with all of these upstances. >> they're not all the same. there's there's a variety circumstances. incident to incident, the weapon or weapons are used to commit the crimes differs. in some cases even the most ambitious legislation would not have necessarily affected the outcome. >> that's right? a. they're all different. they all tend to be complicated issues with regard to the mass shootings, you know where four
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or more people are killed. often there's some form of mental illness there. you just recently saw in nevada, you know where, you know, i think he was 12 years old, you know had access to his parents guns. i mean, look at that. >> no amount of legislation would have affected that. >> that's right. that comes down to parentally responsibility. >> even that commander, isn't that the second amendment argument the people who support and here we sit in texas, a state when believes absolutely in the second amendment, like i do. >> yeah, as you do. for people who are opposed to any gun violence prevention measures that you're talking about, they would say these instances in which no amount of legislation would have prevented the outcome, are the reasons that that legislation is not necessary because clearly, it's not going to affect -- >> well, some you could pick and choose. you could pick and choose some things, okay. this one no amount of legislation would have affected the outcome. absolutely. then you have others where,
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sure, a very simple process of extending background checks to just a gun show would have made it much more difficult for that person from getting a gun. so they're all kind. you know, there's no pen had a sea here. there's no one thing we can pick and make this problem go away. >> it's a both end solution. >> yeah. there's a got of things we can k- do to nibble away at this problem. we're not going to go 15 to 20 times worse from any country we would have want to be compared to down to twice as bad. wouldn't that be to get down to twice as bad. >> i hate to aspire to that. >> that's right. but there's a lot we can do to save people's lives. we have about 33 people are murdered each day in it country with a gun. most of it isn't this mass shootings we're talking about. you know, it's daily. >> we've gotten pretty matter of fact about the fact that there's this much violence. >> you know, over a time. the nra often points out that
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gun violence in it country has gone down. it's still bad. >> in congresswoman give order's case, the incident in tucson as we sit here almost three years ago, it was three years in january, what would the kind of legislation you proposed have done in that case. >> well, in that case it would take couple of things. this was a guy who was clearly mentally ill. who was expelled from community college. when he was expelled and people who knew him knew he was experiencing some form of schizophrenia, the community college went to his house h talked to his parents and basically said he's expelled if you get him treatment you know and he gets better he can talk to us about getting back in. what they could have done, is certainly they could have - if there was a place for him to go and in arizona like a lot of other states we've dismantled that mental health saferty net. so there wasn't an obvious place
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to send him. if he did an an evaluation and gotten treatment we know he would not have done what he it on january 8th of 2,011. if he was adjudicated as mentally ill, the problem with arizona and other states is that you can buy a gun without getting a background check. in this case you would have had to identify him, get him adjudicated mentally ill. get that into the criminal background check system and make sure you close the loophole that would allow him to buy a gun without a background check. if all of those things happened, probably wouldn't prevented. >> yeah. >> did he not have a high capacity. >> no, he did. he had 233 round magazines. he fired the first one in 15 seconds. when trying to reload, he was kind of taken down and a woman named patricia maybe was able to grab the second magazine because he dropped it. >> but again legislation that would have outlawed. >> well, certainly if a 33
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magazine was not available for a globing you would have had less people killed and injured assuming that the same thing happened where he dropped it and then grabbed another. >> so you say i'm a second amendment guy and you are and have for sometime. so you have some sympathy for the argument that these are rights that are my rights and i don't want the government coming in. >> it's not sympathy. both gabby and i are gun owners. we're strong supports of the second amendment. what do you say for people who have second amendment types who come to you. >> i say i'm with you. the second amendment is incredibly important to me. i think the second amendment becomes in jeopardy if we make ities easy for the mentally ill to get guns. we see this in -- you know that seems pretty clear to me that you know, criminals, convicted felons, domestic abusers, the dangerouslytayll suld
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not enjoy the second amendment ts tha tes os do. >> right. >> and it's, know, i am always hoping that we can get more people involved with this issue to see that we can work together. that congress can work together to solve. you know, a pretty serious problem. >> reserve the rights that people have. >> absolutely. i'm not one of those people that is subscribe to the slippery slope. you often see that argument come up. that well, if we then it will be a legislation and then confiscation think about washington right now. it's impossible to get anything do. why do you tnk the spe is going to be slip hey. my perspective as an astronaut, the slope is made of velcro. >> mbe w shodave the background checks be on a government determined website so we can ensure that no one ever gets access to the information. so the people who say to you, i want to be ableo pass my gun
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down to my son and yet there's a concern that within in legislation that would be impeded. >> so with the bill in april that would not have been impeded. >> absolutely. >> clearly, if the transaction was based on a personal relationship, no background check is required. we do back ground checks on 60 percent of gun sales in it country. we know that since 1999 that 2 million criminals have been denied access to weapons. but what happened to those 2 million people where did they go? did they go to the internet? did they go to a gun show and buy a gun, i would content tend that probably a lot of them to. so if we think it works for the 60 percent ofun sales, why not do it for the 40 -- >> you and congresswoman give orders have been thrust into this role. it was chosen for you where you at least accepted the responsibility of carrying this message that is obviously quite
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personal to you. obviously, the physical issues for congresswoman give order have made the last several years hard but i wonder if people out in the world have shown you respect as you've taken in some places unpopular positions. because she is the embloom of this kind kind of gun violence. people can disagree with this kind of -- >> no, weere recently at a gun show and after walking around the gun show with an attorney general, we left and there were some folks there with, you know, signs that were, you know, essentially, you know, protesting either the attorney general or gabby and i being there. i walked across the street to talk to them. that's like my favorite thing to do is to go talk to these folks who don't think they agree with me on anything and then find out yeah, we actually have a lot in common on this issue. so i went and talked to them. there was about a dozen people. i shook all of their hands. and walked back across the street. got in the car with gabby as we
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drove awake one of the persons otesting out there yelled something out of their car. they yelled we love you gabby. so you can turn people around. >> you know, i think people feel strongly about this issue. they have a reason to feel strongly about it. but if you can discuss the issue with them, a think a lot of people have respect for my wife as, you know, somebody who was in congress, who worked across party lines whenever she could to get thing done. some of the her best friends in congress were, now he, conservative republicans. one in particular, from in the state of texas. you know gabby and ted mow were very close. >> right. >> shelway wasbleo find that common ground with -- between people and we're still trying to do that. >> right. >> you know, we've got about 500,000 people who have signed up on our website to try to support us with this cause and they include a lot of gun owners
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and even nra members who can kind of behind us. with regards to that bill last april, that was something that i think 72 percent of nra members thought should be passed. in fact, nra have been on the record years ago supporting background checks. >> yeah, i think maybe 10 years ago. >> very complicated stuff. >> it's complicated. it's political so i mentioned you all were thrust into this role. you had a life previous and you were up in space. you're a retired astronaut but because you're not longer active it doesn't mean that you no longer have opinions about pace so you commanded four shuttle missions. >> two and were a pilot hop two. >> but you flew four times. we seem to be getting out of the space -- as we sit here your twin brother who is also an astronaut is about to go into space for a year so we haven't
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completely gotten out of the space business but more or less we're drawing dawn what seems to be the nation's long-standing commitment to -- >> it might seem like that. >> would you correct me and correct us if we perceive it as the case. >> after the columbia accident in 2,003, challenger was in 1986, it was the second loss of a space shuttle. >> right. >> after that accident, the white house, congress, and nasa, including the astronaut office all agree wed should retire the space shuttle. >> right. >> that was a decision that was made for crew safety. the space shuttles, i am the biggest fan of the say shuttle. they were each designed to fly 100 flights each which none of them did but they were not designed to fly for 30 or 40 years. we realize if we kept doing this we were going to have another accident. we work in a small group of people. we didn't want to see our friends killed. we build stuff safer. the probe problem is that the annual budget of the program is
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about $3 billion to operate it. so design and test and build a new space craft probably cost about the same amount of m. without getting another flee billion dollars a year out of that is a the only way to do this was to retire the space shuttle and then rebuild the space craft. it takes years to build another space craft. you have space x, the company that delivers cargo to the space station. they're planning on delivering people to the space station. so we're going to see americans astronauts flying on american rockets again. it's going to be great. right now my brother is going to go up which we've done well over a decade now. it's a reliable system. but the united states of america as leaders in space, and technology and science. >> we need -- >> yeah we need to have our own space craft. >> you're talking about space x which is a private company. >> boeing and martin were
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private companies as well as rockwell but the difference is that it used to be the big government contractor, big government program, a lot of oversight. with this commercial cargo and commercial crew program, the idea is to have the smaller company give that company a lot of freedom to do what they want. don't provide an army. >> stream lined. >> and don't provide an army to oversee what they're doing. >> right. >> you know, so it's a little bit different model. it is still, you know, the united states government instead of really owning the space craft we're going to buy the service. >> we're sort of renting it. >> we're kind of rent it. it's a little bit different. it's going to have the united states flag on it. >> we can flame, right, that it's ours. >> yeah, absolutely. you know sassa is working with space x and full disclosure, i do some stuff for space x as w. i sit on a safety advisory pack panel for their vehicle. >> i think that's actually
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pretty amazing, so what happens now. so going forward as you say we see whether the 2,014 elections provide a different political climate for you to return to this cause. >> yeah, absolutely. in the absence of that, what? >> well, in the absents of that you keep up -- you do the political work that's important. you do the lobbying on capitol hill to try to convince members of congress that they should do the right thing for their constituents. you know,. >> you keep working on the issue. you know, you don't have for astronaut for lack of a better word, a vacuum there, you know, on the side of people that want something done to take a positive step. we still haven't done anything since new town. so in the absence of anything changing, what do you and congress woman give orders do. >> you have lives that are not connected just to action sock
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asy on behalf of issue. tell me about your lives going forward. >> well, gabby spends a lot of time on therapy. she continues to work hard on her recovery. she works every single day, you know, she's really a fighter. >> there's no way for her to have gotten to this point without incredible fortitude. >> she's tough. >> she has gotten back to a place where most people in and out of medicine would have told you was unlikely if not impossible. >> that's true. that is true. you know, i always knew gabby was tough before she was injured. i had no idea. >> well, you sure know now. >> yeah, to see how she went through and her recovery. how hard she has that work. she continues to work hard everyday. i had somebody say to me, doesn't she get tired because they had a similar issue with a relative. it was very hard to get them to do the therapy. >> sure. >> and they said, well, is it hard to get gabby to do the therapy and i'm like not at all.
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>> she's so motivated. did she have any designs on any kind of return to public service or public life outside of the amazing stuff she's been able to accomplish. >> she lived serving in congress. she loves the state of arizona. >> she was joyful of serving in congress. she seemed actually joyful about it. >> she loved it and she's a pub lib servant at heart. you know, she always has been. she always will be. >> right. >> you know, i think if when gabby feels like she's ready to return to that, absolutely she would do it. >> she will. you were actually courted were not to possibly run for her seat. there was some discussion of john mccain retiring from the united states senate. there were people who were trying to get you to run. have you thought about that. >> you know gabby is the politician in our family. >> well, that's not a no. you obviously have become associated with politics and causes by
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virtue of this set of circumstances it would not be for for to you decide to think the best way to accomplish what you want to accomplish complain is from the inside. >> i think with regards to this issue is from the outside. if i wanted to affect other things it might be better to do it from the inside. right now, i like to have the freedom to -- and a little bit of time to be able to help gabby make sure she has what she needs to work on her own recovery. we full lives right now. i would never say never but it it's not something that i aspire to. >> thank you very much for your time. good luck with with all of your work. commander mark kelly. >> thank you. >> we'd love to you you join us in the studio. visit our website at to find invitations to interviews, q and as with our audience and guest and an archive of past episodes.
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justice excelio wrote the majority opinion an it means what he says it means because the supreme court decided which is essentially that people have the right to own a gun -- funding for overhear with evan smith is provided in part by mfi foundation, improving the quality of life within our community. and from the texas board of legal specialization. board certified attorneys in your community, experienced, respected, and tested. also by hilco partners, texas government affairs consultancy, and its global healthcare consulting business unit hilco health and by the alice clayberg reynolds foundation and viewers like you.>
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