Skip to main content

tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  January 16, 2013 9:00am-10:00am PST

9:00 am
and then grant, go ahead and wave, grant. grant said, i think there should be some changes. we should learn from what happened at sandy hook. i feel really bad. and then julia said, julia, where are you? i'm not scared for my safety, i'm scared for others. i have four brothers and sisters, and i know i would not be able to bear the thought of losing any of them. and these are our kids. this is what they are thinking about. and so what we should be thinking about is our responsibility to care for them and shield them from harm. and give them the tools they need to grow up and do everything that they are capable of doing, not just to pursue
9:01 am
their own dreams, but to help build this country. this is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe. this is how we will be judged. and their voices should compel us to change. and that's why last month i asked joe to lead an effort, along with members of my cabinet, to come up with some concrete steps we can take right now to keep our children safe, to help prevent mass shootings, to reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country. and we can't put this off any longer. just last thursday, as tv networks were covering one of joe's meetings on this topic, news broke of another school shooting, this one in california. in the month since 20 precious
9:02 am
children and six brave adults were violently taken from us at sandy hook elementary, more than 900 of our fellow americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun. 900. in the past month. and every day we wait, that number will keep growing. so, i'm putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of joe's task force, and in the days ahead, i intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality, because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there's even one thing
9:03 am
we can do to reduce this violence, if there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try. and i'm going to do my part. as soon as i'm finished speaking here, i will sit at that desk and i will sign a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals, and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence. we will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by strengthening the background check system. we will help schools hire more resource officers, if they want them, and develop emergency preparedness plans. we will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence, even as we acknowledge someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator.
9:04 am
and while year after year, those who oppose even modest gun safety measures have threatened to defund scientific or medical research into the causes of gun violence, i will direct the centers for disease control to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce it. and congress should fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds. we don't benefit from ignorance. we don't benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence. these are a few of the 23 executive actions that i'm announcing today, but as important as these steps are, they are in no way a substitute for action from members of congress. to make a real and lasting difference, congress, too, must act. and congress must act soon.
9:05 am
and i'm calling on congress to pass some very specific proposals right away. first, it's time for congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. [ applause ] the law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks, and over the last 14 years, that's kept 1.5 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun, but it's hard to enforce that law when as many as 40% of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check. that's not safe. that's not smart. that's not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers. if you want to buy a gun, whether it's from a licensed dealer or a private seller, you should at least have to show you are not a felon or somebody
9:06 am
legally prohibited from buying one. this is common sense. and an overwhelming majority of americans agree with us on the need for universal background checks, including more than 70% of the national rifle association's members, according to one survey. so there's no reason we can't do this. second, congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and a ten-round limit for magazines. [ applause ] the type of assault rifle used in aurora, for example, when paired with high-capacity magazines, has one purpose, to pump out as many bullets as possible as quickly as possible. to do as much damage, using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage. and that's what allowed the gunman in aurora to shoot 70
9:07 am
people. 70 people, killing 12, in a matter of minutes. weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater. a majority of americans agree with us on this. and by the way, so did ronald reagan, one of the staunchest defenders of the second amendment, who wrote to congress in 1994 urging them -- this is ronald reagan speaking -- urging them to listen to the american public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of military-style assault weapons. [ applause ] and finally, congress needs to help, rather than hinder, law enforcement as it does its job. we should get tougher on people who buy guns with the express purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals. and we should severely punish
9:08 am
anybody who helps them do this. since congress hasn't confirmed a director of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms in six years, they should confirm todd jones, who will be -- who has been acting and i will be nominating for the post. [ applause ] and, at a time when budget cuts are forcing many communities to reduce their police force, we should put more cops back on the job and back on our streets. let me be absolutely clear. like most americans, i believe the second amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. i respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of hunters and sportsmen. there are millions of responsible, law-abiding gun
9:09 am
owners in america, who cherish their right to bear arms for hunting or sport or protection or collection. i also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the second amendment while keeping an irresponsible law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale. i believe most of them agree that if america worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in newtown. that's what these reforms are designed to do. they are common sense measures. they have the support of the majority of the american people. and yet that doesn't mean any of this is going to be easy to enact or implement. if it were, we'd already have universal background checks. the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines never would have been allowed to expire. more of our fellow americans
9:10 am
might still be alive, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and graduations. this will be difficult. there will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a teherani teheranical, all-out assault on liberty. not because that's true, but because they want fear, higher rating for themselves, and behind the scenes they'll do everything they can to block any common sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever. the only way we will be able to change is if their audience, their constituents, their membership, says this time must be different. that this time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids. i will put everything i've got
9:11 am
into this, and so will joe, but i tell you, the only way we can change is if the american people demand it. and, by the way, that doesn't just mean from certain parts of the country. we're going to need voices in those areas and those congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong to speak up and to say this is important. it can't just be the usual suspects. we have to examine ourselves and our hearts and ask ourselves, what is important? this will not happen unless the american people demand it. if parents and teachers, police officers and pastors, if hunters and sportsmen, if responsible gun owners, if americans of
9:12 am
every background stand up and say, enough. we've suffered too much pain and cared too much about our children to allow this to continue, then change will come. that's what it's going to take. you know, in the letter that julia wrote me, she said, i know that laws have to be passed by congress, but i beg you to try very hardly. julia, i will try very hard. but she's right. the most important changes we can make depend on congressional action. they need to bring these proposals up for a vote, and the american people need to make sure that they do. get them on record. ask your member of congress if they support universal background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands. ask them if they support
9:13 am
renewing a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. and if they say no, ask them, why not? ask them, what's more important, doing whatever it takes to get an "a" grade from the gun lobby that funds their campaigns, or giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade. [ applause ] this is the land of the free, and it always will be. as americans, we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights that no man or government can take away from us. but we've also long recognized, as our founders recognized, that with rights come responsibilities. along with our freedom to live
9:14 am
our lives as we will, comes an obligation to allow others to do the same. we don't live in isolation. we live in a society. a government of and by and for the people. we are responsible for each other. you know, the right to worship freely and safely, that right was denied to sikhs in oak creek, wisconsin. the right to assemble peacefully, that right was denied shoppers in clackamas, oregon, and movie goers in aurora, colorado. that most fundamental set of rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, fundamental rights that were denied to college students at virginia tech and high school students at columbine and elementary school students in
9:15 am
newtown and kids on street corners in chicago on too frequent a basis to tolerate. and all the families who never imagined that they'd lose a loved one to a bullet, those rights are at stake. we're responsible. and when i visited newtown last month, i spent some private time with many of the families who lost their children that day, and one was the family of grace mcdonnell, grace's parents were here. grace was 7 years old when she was struck down. just a gorgeous, caring, joyful little girl. i'm told she loved pink. she loved the beach. she dreamed of becoming a painter. and, so just before i left,
9:16 am
chris, her father, gave me one of her paintings, and i hung it in my private study just off the oval office. and every time i look at that painting, i think about grace, and i think about the life that she lived and the life that lay ahead of her, and most of all, i think about how when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now, for grace, for the 25 other innocent children and devoted educators who had so much left to give. for the men and women in big cities and small towns who fall victim to senseless violence each and every day. for all the americans who are counting on us to keep them safe from harm. let's do the right thing. let's do the right thing for them and for this country that we love so much. thank you. [ applause ]
9:17 am
i'm going to sign these orders. [ applause ]
9:18 am
president obama just finished his remarks, where he announced comprehensive gun safety recommendations, more than a month after the shooting in newtown, connecticut. joined by vice president biden, cabinet members, the families of some of the sandy hook victims and children from around the country who wrote to the president following the tragedy. joining me, karen finney, washington bureau chief david corn, and assistant editor for "fortune," leigh gallagher. he and the vice president outlined other proposals they hope will put an end to incidents like the sandy hook shooting. >> i have no illusions about what we're up against or how hard the task is in front of us, but i also have never seen a nation's conscience so shaken by what happened at sandy hook. the world has changed, and it's demanding action. >> what we should be thinking
9:19 am
about is our responsibility to care for them and shield them from harm and give them the tools they need to grow up and do everything that they are capable of doing, not just to pursue their own dreams, but to help build this country. this is our first task as a society. i'm putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of joe's task force, and in the days ahead, i intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality. because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there's even one thing we can do to reduce this
9:20 am
violence, if there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try. these are a few of the 23 executive actions that i'm announcing today, but as important as these steps are, they are in no way a substitute for action from members of congress. it's time for congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. [ applause ] congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and a ten-round limit for magazines. [ applause ] >> that was president obama outlining a raft of legislations, proposals, and executive actions he intends to take to curb gun violence in this country. karen, let's talk about what the president just outlined there. we know he signed several executive actions, he signed several executive actions. among them, strengthening background checks, the ability of federal agencies to share information. also, perhaps long overdue,
9:21 am
pushing forward a nomination of todd jones to be head of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. there's not been a director in six years. he also outlined, not a huge surprise, we've been talking about a lot of these measures in recent days, several new things he'd like congress to take action on, including universal background checks, the assault weapons ban he is going forward with, and a ban on high-capacity magazine clips, and a crackdown on gun trafficking, which has less to do, perhaps, with newtown, and more to do with the increased gun violence that we saw in intercities across the country. your thoughts on his recommendations. >> a couple of things. one, all these recommendations, i'm going to say the phrase, common sense. every single thing he said sounds very reasonable, and most americans don't realize there aren't already universal background checks. they don't know how broken our system is. i would say a couple things, though, the executive actions, in some ways, i would frame them as sort of cleaning up the laws
9:22 am
that are already on the books. this is not we're coming for your guns, and i think the language was very nonconfrontational that he used, and clearly they are trying to shift the messaging and paradigm on this, because the nra made it all about they are coming for your guns and they are taking away your freedoms. instead, we're talking about gun safety, reducing gun violence. we're not talking about gun control. i think that's a very smart move for the white house, because again, it sort of lowers that initial barrier to get people to listen to the ideas that we're talking about. i thought it was very wise. >> joining us now from washington is the moderator of nbc's "meet the press," david gregory. good to have you. in terms of the remarks just now, karen said he's making the appeal to the notion of common sense. he put a raft of proposals on the table, but he also made a point to stress mental health protocols, to stress the fact he was going to hollywood on some of this to seem even handed in some of his suggestions. the other thing i thought was notable, he's calling on
9:23 am
ordinary, everyday americans to talk to their friends, neighbors, elected representatives. this is part of the new obama playbook, which is activating the grassroots networks. because the american people, as he said, will create this change, if, in fact, it comes to washington. >> you know, the politics are so difficult, and the president just made a nod to that. there's a reason why there was this period in american politics where gun control was not on the table at all, it's because mostly the democratic party decided they didn't want to wage this war anymore, because they felt they simply couldn't win it. the president is acknowledging how difficult it remains by saying, as you referred to, this will not happen unless the american people demand it. and it's through that demand there will be pressure on congress. i think the president understands there are certain things he certainly does want to make the argument that everybody has a role, but when it comes to high-capacity clips or it comes to an assault weapons ban, which was in place before, americans
9:24 am
should remember, that the politics will make that very difficult. remember, it was a democratic house that barely, barely passed that ban in 1994, and now republicans control the house. it would be extremely difficult to get that through this time. the president's concluded he wants to go big on that, that he wants to be seen as fighting for these changes. i've talked to republicans who say what the president is going to do is make it very difficult for us. he's going to try to isolate and blame republicans if these measures don't get passed. but nevertheless, what he's doing is saying there has to be a real change. if sandy hook really did change the politics of this, there has to be evidence of that in terms of the kind of pressure that's brought to bear, you know, not in major cities where there might already be major support for gun regulation, but it has to be in districts of congressional members where they are in favor of gun rights and do not favor any curtailment of
9:25 am
those rights. that's what has to change, is the president's point. >> republicans are certainly a huge piece of this puzzle, but so are centrist democrats, democrats that have taken funding from t fundi funding the nra. democrats in the senate are going to be a part of this, if it happens. >> one thing the president's doing is he's giving his fellow democrats a buffet style. here are 23 things i'm doing right now, and here are four or five pieces of legislation. you can group them together, you can have them individually. some are, obviously, heavier lifts, as they say, than others. what bill clinton did back in 1994 when he got an assaults weapons bill passed is included it in a gigantic crime bill, so a lot of governors wanted that. it had the expansion of the federal death penalty, some wanted to see that. it was part of a larger scheme. you don't see that coming to task here the way things are playing out now, but i think,
9:26 am
certainly, high-capacity magazines probably have a better chance than an assault weapons ban. a gun trafficking law, well, who's against going after gun traffickers? it's common sense, as we said. i think there's a lot that can play out here, and probably a way for harry reid and other centrists -- he's not a centrist, but other democrats to sort of find stuff in this they like and have big victories, and one victory can lead to another. >> it's important what david just said, the fact that the white house is proposing a series of measures, and i've talked to democrats on capitol hill who say what we'll probably want to do is pursue some bills that can attract some bipartisan support, might even get nra support initially. this menu, then, of other things can be left to. they want to begin immigration, so the gun debate could go on for quite a while. it's going to depend on the president to the extent that he
9:27 am
wants to go out there and campaign for this and on this around the country to bring pressure. but he made it very clear, this is now in the hands of the democratic leadership in the senate and those -- and americans and democrats who want to put pressure on house republican leaders to get this passed. and because it's broken up means that some things can succeed and some things could, you know, fail profoundly. >> leigh, we were talking as the president was speaking about the fact he's invoking the constitution. >> he is. >> in an attempt, perhaps, to reframe the debate, given the fact the right has been reliept on the constitution and the second amendment has been bedrocked part of their argument. he sort of flipped the argument saying, what about the victims, what about the children, what about the people on street corners, are these not people who should be given due protection under the law, that's not part of the bill of rights. >> absolutely. he brought it up in the context of rights. there were two incisive remarks that were direct targets on that topic, one was when he invoked
9:28 am
ronald reagan, a fan of the second amendment, who came out as a staunch supporter of ban on assaults manufacturer and framing this as the rights of everyday people. that is a rights issue, as well, and that was giving it right back at the nra, which is a single-issue organization at this point. it is black and white, there are no shades of gray. that has been their staunch stance. >> this is part of why the framing of this discussion is so important, something david gregory was just saying. democrats are going to have to find their spine on this. it's going to be a tough vote, but when you reframe this conversation about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, making sure our kids are safe, that's a different conversation than the way we've talked about gun control in the past, so the framing of this, i think, is critical. particularly given the president's going to be out there campaigning and there's also an opportunity for democrats to flip this issue on republicans. i've talked to republicans who
9:29 am
say of all the constituencies they are losing, they know immigration debate is going to be a tough one for them, on some of these nomination fights it can be tough for them, but moms, they can't afford to lose suburban moms, and there is a concern in terms of how they fight this on the messaging frame, are you really against keeping kids safe. >> i think it's important to also point out, the nra's arguments, yes, they are single issue and there may be a lot of opponents to the nra, but the nra's argument is several fold, and it includes the fact that this kind of legislation, in their view, simply will not work, will not deal with the problem. high-capacity magazines, there are so many of them that the ability to somehow stamp them out of existence through new regulation doesn't deal with their ability to be trafficked within the country. the same is true of what are called assault weapons, so i think that part of the argument that will go forward is going to
9:30 am
be on the merits about what is actually effective in combatting this kind of violence and whether there's enough resources being dedicated to, you know, the ability to track people's mental health or lack thereof and their capacity to commit crime as they are trying to run down 30-bullet magazine clips. the president's argument here, though, is similar to the nra's. when the nra says we should have armed guards in schools, they are saying if there is any potential to diminish the carnage in a situation like this, then we ought to try it. that's the argument in favor of armed guards. that's what the president is essentially saying here. >> as a rejoinder to the wayne lapierre suggestion of armed gashds in every school, the president is asking for cops on the street, asking congress for $14 million to train police officers, first responders, and school officials. there's a piece there on school safety. it will be interesting to see if
9:31 am
that's enough of a deal sweetener to get them to move on any of the other, perhaps, less palatable issues. nbc's david gregory, thank you for joining us. after the break, president obama's proposal, while comprehensive, is not the only one getting national attention today, but will new york's tough new restrictions set the bar for others across the country? we'll take a look at gun safety measures on the state level next on "now." look, if you have copd like me, you know it can be hard to breathe, and how that feels. copd includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. spiriva helps control my copd symptoms by keeping my airways open for 24 hours.
9:32 am
plus, it reduces copd flare-ups. spiriva is the only once-daily inhaled copd maintenance treatment that does both. spiriva handihaler tiotropium bromide inhalation powder does not replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms. tell your doctor if you have kidney problems, glaucoma, trouble urinating, or an enlarged prostate. these may worsen with spiriva. discuss all medicines you take, even eye drops. stop taking spiriva and seek immediate medical help if your breathing suddenly worsens, your throat or tongue swells, you get hives, vision changes or eye pain, or problems passing urine. other side effects include dry mouth and constipation. nothing can reverse copd. spiriva helps me breathe better. (blowing sound) ask your doctor about spiriva. nothing. are you stealing our daughter's school supplies and taking them to work? no, i was just looking for my stapler and my...
9:33 am
this thing. i save money by using fedex ground and buy my own supplies. that's a great idea. i'm going to go... we got clients in today. [ male announcer ] save on ground shipping at fedex office. humans. even when we cross our t's and dot our i's, we still run into problems. namely, other humans. at liberty mutual insurance, we understand. that's why our auto policies come with accident forgiveness if you qualify, where your rates won't go up due to your first accident, and new car replacement, where, if you total your new car, we give you the money for a new one. call... to talk to an insurance expert about everything else that comes standard with our base auto policy. and if you get into an accident and use one of our certified repair shops,
9:34 am
your repairs are guaranteed for life. call... to switch, and you could save hundreds. ♪ born to make mistakes liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy? it can't just be the usual suspects. we have to examine ourselves and our hearts and ask ourselves, what is important? this will not happen unless the american people demand it. >> president obama just moments ago urging americans to take to the phones, take to their
9:35 am
neighborhoods, have conversations about gun safety and gun reform. karen, i guess on some level i wasn't surprised by that, because if we have learned anything about what the white house thinks is an effective strategy, campaigning and getting the american people, the grassroots networks, engaged seems to be an integral part of that. as we discussed, for too long i think we sort of sat in our various corners. there hasn't been enough of a national dialogue, hasn't been enough pressure on congress to really do something, and that's going to be a very important piece, how much the president is going to get enthusiasm in the country, in states red, blue, purple and otherwise for real, sensible gun laws. >> also, if you look at the amount of money the nra has been spending on lobbying and supporting different candidates, it's millions and millions of dollars. on the other side, you know, supporters of gun safety measures haven't been able to spend that kind of money, so part of it is they've had the field to themselves.
9:36 am
this, i hope, will be a partial equalizer. the more you have voices out there putting pressure on members of congress, it's all about raising the stakes on members of congress, whether it's money or votes. the more people raise the stakes on their members of congress and make it an issue, if you don't support this, i will not support you, that's what the president is trying to do here. i'm just saying, he's won two elections with this grassroots organization. >> this is a classic case for political scientists of intensity gap. the people on the nra side, the people who call their guns their babies have felt so strongly about this, they are ready to mobilize on a moment's notice out of a fear the black helicopter is coming and obama is going to come into their house with a magnet and collect all their guns and sell them to communists elsewhere. >> they gain strength. they have 100,000 new members since newtown. they had another surge after the brady bill. they excel in those moments. >> what obama is trying to do
9:37 am
here is, again, trying to marginalize, if you want to be that sort of advocate in this, if you want to be a fearmonger, you're out of the mainstream. you're saying things that aren't true and we're going to come right at you, and i think a lot of this is going to depend on whether he can succeed in this mission. bill clinton succeeded in '94 by enlisting cops and police chiefs, saying, listen, we're the mainstream, we're on the streets, we know what's going on. we're going to take on the nra, one of the first time he put a wedge between cops and the nra. >> i would say the president is following that playbook. the vice president has had a meeting with various groups, whether they are law enforcement officials, whether it's a clergy, whether it's gun control, sensible gun control advocates. we are about to see the biggest gun control coalition ever assembled with an entrenched opposition. you also have money. mayor bloomberg is ready to pour millions into this. my bet is there are other
9:38 am
progressives, common sense gun reform advocates that have deep pockets that are ready to say, listen, finally a channel for this. >> look, if you -- >> which is why they are going to have that intensity in the grassroots. >> there is a moment here, and that is exactly what the president is saying. if you look at the last -- lbj was passed in the wake of the assassinations we saw. there's a national moment happening here, we all know that. but the question will be, what can really happen? obviously, david gregory made great points, the assaults weapons ban is hyperpolarizing. there are a complexed menu of things that can actually do a lot. i mean, universal background checks, 40% of gun sales, the president said exchanged between private hands. that's also a boon by gun retailers because they are sick having to compete with a black market that doesn't have to adhere to the same rules they have. it's a complicated issue. >> let's talk about, look, if
9:39 am
you manage to get -- if you manage to ban high-capacity magazine clips, as jason ross writes in the washington post, they'll fundamentally transform the character of these guns. put a five-round magazine in the ar-14 and you have the world's ugliester ha ugliest vermit rifle. >> there's a fake war on twitter what's a semiautomatic versus an automatic. this is a issue you have members of the military saying, wait a minute, these weapons of war don't belong on the streets. but i want to mention something joy reid, our colleague, mentioned last night, noah pozner, one of the children killed, his mother wanted the governor to see the body of her son, because she wanted people to have to face the carnage of what that kind of gun did. it destroyed his left hand, his
9:40 am
lower jaw. this tiny baby, this 6-year-old child, so, i mean, we're lucky we don't have to see that, we don't have to face that, but i think this conversation, part of where we have to take it to people is talking about the carnage of when you have those high-capacity magazine clips, what is capable -- >> the vice president did that. sorry, go ahead. >> it's a question of values, too. you can't just make this an issue of policy. there's a component to that, but we have a value here between those people who believe they should have unfeted access to almost anything that can fire a bullet and destroy people and others who say, listen, protecting children, not having to ever have a funeral like that again. that's as important as your right to have a blast. the president has to keep this emotional aspect in, because this will feed the intensity on the side of people who want change. >> and, leigh, if we talk about what is possible, it's worth noting that here in new york state the governor passed some
9:41 am
very broad, some very sweeping legislative change in terms of new york state's gun laws. it's going to affect high-capacity magazines, it's going to strengthen the assault weapons ban that we have here. it's going to be more inclusive in terms of what weapons are not allowed on the streets. it even has mental health provisions which some are saying might be violating the doctor/patient privilege, but the point of it is, there is impetus, right, for change. it is interesting that ten states, plus new york, are considering stricter laws following newtown. >> absolutely. >> there's always a flip side. >> you have wyoming in there? >> there are six states that are considering loosening the restrictions. i fear this, once again, becomes a debate on many other substantiative blue/red. >> interesting to note in the new york bill or law, background checks even apply to bullet purchases, which is interesting. yes, we are a complexed country made up of many, many different parts. the states that have excelled
9:42 am
and moved to pass legislation are the ones you would expect. we still have the west. colorado is an interesting test zone, because it is where aurora happened, yet it is also, you know, part of that sort of deep-rooted west, you know, kind of mentality. but, you know, the state laws only go so far because of the interstate transfer of weapons. what's bought and sold in florida can end up anywhere. >> which is one of the reasons the president's proposal for a new gun trafficking law is important. and it's also getting the atf really prosecuting cases again. you know, one of the key things that got lost in the fast and furious controversy was that a lot of the people working on that beat were trying to find ways to prosecute people buying guns and giving them to mexico and elsewhere and they were not allowed to. they were not allowed to do their job because of rules and regulations that the nra had pushed for. >> it's amazing. "usa today" has a list of secret nra laws that have been bundled
9:43 am
into legislation. you can carry guns and concealed weapons into national parks. national park rangers are saying this is not a good idea. >> president obama signed that, by the way. >> you know, you can take a gun on an amtrak train -- this is amazing to me, firearms are exempt from consumer product safety examination. >> the point the president is making that's so important, the nra has literally tried to stop any kind of research about gun violence and guns. there's a law in florida where it's now on appeal, if a doctor -- a doctor can lose their license for writing in a patient's record if there was any way connected to a gun. that's insanity. >> look at the insurance issue, too. guns are the most dangerous things out there, if not used properly, yet the nra got immunity from insurance claims. again and again and again, they are not even treated on an equal level with toasters, you know, they are being given exempt
9:44 am
status. and i think some of the executive actions can deal with that, but we're going to have to go further. >> before we go to break, i was happy in as far as one can be happy in a debate like this, when the president tackled or addressed the notion of gun violence in the inner cities not just being relegated to these horrific shootings, singular events, but what's happening in chicago, understands illegal gun trafficking has to be part of the puzzle. >> it makes you wonder if you confront wayne lapierre, everybody in detroit, everybody in east l.a., everybody in the inner city? >> yeah. >> that becomes a different conversation than the conversation they want to have. >> and at the very -- it's a conversation to begin with, which is not something they want to have. to the degree conversations are happening, that has to be a sign of progress. coming up, some republicans offered their pre-buttals to the president's gun safety proposals, weighing in with the
9:45 am
measured criticism we've come to expect, that is accusing the white house of imperialism and calling for impeachment. we'll discuss the latest set of grand old problems just ahead. [ female announcer ] need help keeping your digestive balance? try the #1 gastroenterologist recommended probiotic. align. align naturally helps maintain digestive balance. ♪ ooh, baby, can i do for you today? ♪ try align today. happening, that has to be a sign grand old problems just ahead. these great glasses. you hmmm. let's see if walmart can help you find the same look for less. okay. see? walmart has all these leading eyewear brands and styles. rockstar! really? yeah. oh, wow! oh, black frame looks good on you. yeah? you can get a complete pair starting at just -- $38. really?! and did you know that our glasses come with a free 12-month replacement guarantee?
9:46 am
i didn't know walmart had all this. the price is impressive, the quality is too! come to walmart and see for yourself. find rollbacks on the contact lenses you want. like the acuvue oasys -- now $27.88. walmart. like the acuvue oasys -- now $27.88. i've always kept my eye on her... but with so much health care noise, i didn't always watch out for myself. with unitedhealthcare, i get personalized information and rewards for addressing my health risks. but she's still going to give me a heart attack. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare.
9:47 am
9:48 am
in advance of president obama's historic announcement on gun safety initiatives, this was a discussion among leading conservatives, ed meis had this to say. >> if he tried to override the second amendment in any way, i believe it would be an impeachable offense. >> ann coulter on race and violence. >> if you compare white populations, we have the same murder rate as belgium, so perhaps it's not a gun problem, it is a demographic problem, which liberals are the ones pushing, pushing, pushing. >> and, of course, there was the mad hatter himself, rush
9:49 am
limbaugh weighing in on the president's choice of backdrop for today's remarks. >> obama uses kids as human shields. he brings these kids supposedly who wrote letters to the white house after newtown. it's going to be very difficult, very difficult to oppose it. you've got these little kids there. they don't want to die -- how can you -- how can you not listen to them? got to do something. that's the picture. >> lest david corn rethink that rush limbaugh has somehow figured out how not to be tone deaf and totally insensitive. >> you couldn't make that up. if you try to come up with the most despicable thing rush limbaugh could do, you could not top that. actually, i kind of have reservations about the president or anybody using kids in a political policy debate. i understand why they did it,
9:50 am
but for him to go on the air and do this sobbing, making fun of these kids who don't want to be shot. my kids came home after newtown and were freaked out and talked about this, and they are a bit older, but this guy, i mean -- i mean, i'm stunned. >> well, i will also play some sound from representative steve stockman from texas, we'll play it in a second, but basically compared the president's use of children in the audience to that of saddam hussein. let's take a listen to that. >> using children, reminds me of saddam hussein when he used kids -- >> karen, we know there's going to be a fight, but it seems like the weaponry, if you will, that some parts of the conservative right is ready to deploy is particularly sharp, it's insensitive, it doesn't really have a -- i don't think it has a place in a discussion where we're talking about very basic issues of safety and
9:51 am
citizenship, but it seems like, you know, i don't think anybody should be under any impression anybody's going to go quietly into the night. >> of course, not. we've seen this time and time again. any time you call out something that the right wing doesn't like, you're a racist, you're a sexist, you're bringing race into it, you're using children. >> you should be impeached. >> or you should be impeached. let's talk about the nra using children, not only creating an app, a game that's marketed, i think they raised the age from 4, but still it's an app targeted for kids, but also using the president's children in i believe now it's a web ad, which is probably about list building and fund raising, which is disgusting. talking about using people's children, i think the right wing has sort of lost all credibility on that now that the nra's done it. that's going to be part of the problem, frankly, that republicans are going to have, the fringe of the republican party, that right wing is going
9:52 am
to go so far out that republicans are going to have to really decide -- >> we're still waiting. >> it's important to listen to voices like colin powell, who told david gregory on sunday, what do we really gain by making sure a bushmaster is available readily for anyone who wants one? think about the issue and not about the politics or who's going to be the next candidate. there are a lot of people on the street, everyday americans, who outside of the political sphere, who don't really understand why that's even a debate. >> of course. >> it does beg the larger question, right, the republicans are embarking today for a retreat to west virginia to colonial williamsburg, the city of the future, to chart the path forwardly and they are going to be talking about a number of things. gun control is certainly going to be one of them, so is immigration, so is gay marriage, and the question is, and we keep asking ourselves this, do the moderates at some point say, enough is enough? this is ridiculous, we cannot keep doubling down on a losing strategy that isolates us further and further and further
9:53 am
into small pockets of the country? >> you're assuming there are moderates. >> there are. >> there are, there are. >> we've lost a few, steve laterette on tv all the time because he's no longer there. there are rabid right wingers, tea partiers and more reasonable conservatives, i'm not going to call them moderates or centrists anymore. that seems to be the debate. i'm waiting for any republican, i don't count colin powell to come out and say with some influence in the party and say, listen, what's going on, impeachment, civil war, all this other stuff on the far right is crazy. they haven't been called out yet by anyone. boehner just can't control his caucus. >> i think that's part of what was so powerful not only about what general powell said and the reaction, i didn't agree with everything he was saying, but basically there's no place for him in the republican party anymore. we know there are many, many, many republicans who feel that way, so where do they go if they
9:54 am
don't speak out? and that's part of, again, the republican party base is becoming smaller and smaller and smaller and they just cannot -- at some point they can't continue to refuse to see reality for what it is. >> i think they can go a long time. >> great. >> marco rubio, who is emerging as sort of a -- i guess what republicans would like to see is a moderate standard bearer for the party, the face of the future just came out with a statement and says the president is abusing his power in reaction to the comments he made. >> abusing his power how? >> this is also an old gop playbook, by the way, abuse of power and impeachment, right? >> i want to know how much this argument and the lines are established within the republican party and democratic party, how much that informs the republicans going forward. if they can't get anything done in the wake of newtown, how
9:55 am
optimistic are we they are going to get anything done on immigration, let alone, you know, energy reform? >> i think they know there is a -- an image problem and an identity crisis happening. but that's absolutely right. it's not just about this, it's everything after this. this debate is going to be long and drawn out. this is just the start. we're going to move on very soon to talk about the debt ceiling, and it's going to be -- we're going to see the exact same extremism there. we already know there's going to be a huge fight and it's going to be played to the end with the highest stakes. >> marco rubio's comment, you know, goes to karen's point. it shows what he cares about now is through the republican base in 2016. to rush out right away and say this is an abuse of power and, you know, two dais ago, whenever he gave his speech, yesterday, immigration proposals, which were almost exactly the same as barack obama's, what do you know? this is a guy who wants to have it both ways and keeping his eye on that base, as small as it is,
9:56 am
people voting in the 2016 republican presidential primary. >> if it gets much smaller, they are not going to vote for him. >> mark levin yesterday on fox said i'm not into imperial politics and obama forgets there's a constitution. i just don't know that is a winning message. when you watch the president out there, who listen, hey, clearly is reading the same memo frank luntz is writing, common sense, reasonableness. >> he looked just like nixon, didn't he? amazing how much he looked like nixon. >> of the battles that are about to occur, right, the republican party has to be very careful, because they are going to continue to move themselves with the crazy rhetoric farther and farther to the right. even on the debt ceiling, they want to shut down part of the government to do what, protect their special interests and screw everybody else. they are marginalizing themselves and painting themselves in a corner. democrats' job is to highlight
9:57 am
that for the american people, because these debates are going to really flush out where those bases are. >> we thought the campaign was over, but it ain't over. >> just getting warmed up. >> never over. >> warming it up. thank you to karen finney, david corn, leigh gallagher. i'll see you back here tomorrow when i'm joined by glenn thrush, maria theresa kumar, and the new yorkers's nick palmgarthen. "andrea mitchell reports" is coming up next. here's your business travel forecast. all eyes on the eastern seaboard today as the storm system brings snow, sleet, and rain. worst of the slippery conditions in southern new england and central new england. mostly snow there. little sleet through jersey and
9:58 am
the southern portions of the coast. southeast, heavy rains today for atlanta. numerous airport delays are possible. check with your air carrier.
9:59 am