MSNBC's Hayes: 'Bizarre and Perverse Mismatch' In Battling Terrorism Versus Gun Violence

On Wednesday's All In show on MSNBC, host Chris Hayes devoting a segment to fretting over what he viewed as a "bizarre and perverse mismatch" at the country's willingness to act aggressively in response to deaths from terrorist acts, but the difficulty to get a response to the many gun deaths. He also described the 30,000 people who die from gun shots each year as "martyrs on the altar of the Second Amendment," as he complained of a double standard.

The MSNBC host teased the segment at about 8:11 p.m.:

Up next, why our political system has zero tolerance for terrorism fatalities, but is fine with 30,000 gun deaths a year. Stay with us.

At about 8:15 p.m., Hayes chastized Senate Republicans for blocking new gun laws as he began the segment:

The grim irony of the past few days is that, as cable news was going into 24-hour wall-to-wall coverage and the country's attention was drawn to the latest mass casualty event, away from the cameras on Capitol Hill, Republican Senators were quietly filibustering and -- with that vote -- killed the last meaningful piece of legislation to address the last mass casualty event, the one just a few months ago, the one we all paid a great deal of attention to, the Newtown shootings.

He then complained about what he viewed as a double standard in how the country reacts to terrorism versus shootings:

When it's guns, when the killer is a shooter, the answer is: nothing. We are told: This just happens. But if it gets put in a special category called "terrorism," then the answer is: Everything must be done, no cost should be spared, no legal precedent should stand in the way. Once it gets put in the "terrorism" bucket, we must do everything in our power. No one ever says, "People are just going to die from terrorism. That's just the way it is." And if it's in the "gun" bucket, "Yeah, 30,000 people are going to die every year from guns. That's just the way it is." Why is that the case?

The MSNBC host soon referred to the 30,000 people who die from gun shots each year as "martyrs on the altar of the Second Amendment," and complained of the "bizarre and perverse mismatch in our political culture about what risks are acceptable and what are not, depending on what the implement of violence is or what the origin of the perpetrator is." Hayes:

Underlying the arguments used by opponents of gun safety measures is the implied position that 30,000 people are going to die each year of guns, and that's the way it has to be. Those people are martyrs on the altar of the Second Amendment. It's the price of freedom. And it is absolutely true that some number of horrible events is, in fact, the price of freedom. You cannot have total security without the country becoming a police state. We expose ourselves to risk by getting out of the house in the morning, getting in a car, going into a public space. But there is a bizarre and perverse mismatch in our political culture about what risks are acceptable and what are not, depending on what the implement of violence is or what the origin of the perpetrator is.

Hayes concluded the segment:

And so, as we follow the developments out of Boston, as we leave no stone unturned attempting to find the perpetrator, another 88 or so people will lose their lives to a bullet tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. Meanwhile, we'll all worry that if the suspect who blew up the finish line in Boston isn't caught, we can't be sure that we're safe.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Wednesday, April 17, All In show on MSNBC:

CHRIS HAYES, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:11 P.M.: Up next, why our political system has zero tolerance for terrorism fatalities, but is fine with 30,000 gun deaths a year. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

The grim irony of the past few days is that, as cable news was going into 24-hour wall-to-wall coverage and the country's attention was drawn to the latest mass casualty event, away from the cameras on Capitol Hill, Republican Senators were quietly filibustering and -- with that vote -- killed the last meaningful piece of legislation to address the last mass casualty event, the one just a few months ago, the one we all paid a great deal of attention to, the Newtown shootings.

The cycle is the same. Something horrible happens, we all watch it happen in real time and we all feel terrible, and we all want to know who are the perpetrators, what are the circumstances, and why did it happen? When we get some inkling of why it happened, we begin to have a discussion of what the implications are for policy, what we might actually do to prevent something like this from happening again in the future.

When it's guns, when the killer is a shooter, the answer is: nothing. We are told: This just happens. But if it gets put in a special category called "terrorism," then the answer is: Everything must be done, no cost should be spared, no legal precedent should stand in the way. Once it gets put in the "terrorism" bucket, we must do everything in our power. No one ever says, "People are just going to die from terrorism. That's just the way it is." And if it's in the "gun" bucket, "Yeah, 30,000 people are going to die every year from guns. That's just the way it is." Why is that the case?

(DISPLAYS CHART SHOWING OVER 3,000 TERRORISM DEATHS SINCE 1980, BUT OVER 900,000 SHOOTING DEATHS)

(...)

Now, there is a reason why terrorism has a special significance, and justifiably so. It's that the ideological, political violence does a kind of violence to the social contract itself that is distinct and menacing and horrible. It distorts society in a specific and special way that a very deranged murderous kid in a school with a gun doesn't.

With a terrorist act the perpetrator removes himself from the social contract we all have to resolve ideological disputes in a nonviolent fashion. But the scale of mismatch between how our political system responds to one kind of death versus the other is shocking, particularly on a day when we're watching this gun bill go down in flames.

In a seemingly unrelated Homeland Security hearing today, Senator Claire McCaskill raised an incredibly interesting question.

SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO): Based on the evidence at this point, is there any difference between Sandy Hook and Boston, other than the choice of weapon?

HAYES: The answer, which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano conceded, is no. There's a difference so far only in methodology. Underlying the arguments used by opponents of gun safety measures is the implied position that 30,000 people are going to die each year of guns, and that's the way it has to be. Those people are martyrs on the altar of the Second Amendment. It's the price of freedom. And it is absolutely true that some number of horrible events is, in fact, the price of freedom. You cannot have total security without the country becoming a police state. We expose ourselves to risk by getting out of the house in the morning, getting in a car, going into a public space. But there is a bizarre and perverse mismatch in our political culture about what risks are acceptable and what are not, depending on what the implement of violence is or what the origin of the perpetrator is.

So today, the Manchin-Toomey background check amendment, the gun bill, the watered-down compromise, failed to pass the Senate's agreed upon filibuster threshold of 60. Keep in mind, you've got 54 votes, four more votes than is necessary to pass if it had been allowed an actual up or down vote, was filibustered.

President Obama responded to the loss with bracing indignation.

(PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA)

Opponents lied, saying this bill created a gun registry when it did exactly the opposite, created a 15-year prison sentence for anyone creating a gun  registry. Opponents used the tried and true filibuster to prevent a regular up or down vote. And so, as we follow the developments out  of Boston, as we leave no stone unturned attempting to find the perpetrator, another 88 or so people will lose their lives to a bullet tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. Meanwhile, we'll all worry that if the suspect who blew up the finish line in Boston isn't caught, we can't be sure that we're safe.