NBC's Todd Whines Over Lack of 'Rational Policy Debate' About Gun Control

While discussing gun control on Wednesday's The Daily Rundown on MSNBC, correspondent Mike Viqueira lamented: "...the anti-gun control, pro-gun rights crowd has won the argument at this point....they've succeeded in framing the issue as one of essential American national values." In response, host and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd ranted: "...nobody has sort of a rational policy debate about it." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Todd began the segment by whining over the lack of gun regulation:

I wanted to look at sort of guns versus cars in the state of Colorado and the amount of paperwork you have to do to register a car versus the amount of paperwork you have to do to register a gun....There's actually no registration requirement in guns. It's actually against the law to register guns. They passed a law to do that....These are not the same level of paperwork, if you will...with cars, you have to, you know, you have to do a lot more things every year to sort of prove it.

The panel of liberal journalists – including Viqueira, Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page, and Associated Press National Political Editor Liz Sidoti – all agreed with Todd's slanted assessment of the issue.

Page complained about Democratic politicians who "want to reach those the guys out there, especially white male voters, in particular, who are part of that core group [of gun owners]." Sidoti observed: "...car registration is not politicized, gun registration is. And that's because, you know, the freedom to drive a car is not enshrined in the Constitution, the freedom to bear arms is."


Here is a full transcript of the July 25 segment:

10:24AM ET

CHUCK TODD: Democrats are divided over calls for stricter gun laws after Friday's tragedy in Colorado, where 12 people lost their lives. Democratic lawmakers are pushing for new measures, despite Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging patience. New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, who lost her husband in a train shooting in 1993, responded to criticism from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who accused politicians of grandstanding.

CAROLYN MCCARTHY: I own that right to speak here. I have the right to try to reduce gun violence in this country, because I've been through it. And as long as I have a voice, I will continue to fight to reduce gun violence in this country.

TODD: Let's bring back the panel, Clarence Page, Liz Sidoti, Mike Viqueira. Guys, we've done the politics of this up and down, we know what's going on here. Harry Reid, from a gun state in Nevada. We know exactly what's up there. New York is always – almost splits more regionally.

But you know, we did a little experiment here. I wanted to look at sort of guns versus cars in the state of Colorado and the amount of paperwork you have to do to register a car versus the amount of paperwork you have to do to register a gun. So let me show you some things that we've put up here. There's actually no registration requirement in guns. It's actually against the law to register guns. They passed a law to do that. Concealed weapons permit only needs to be renewed every five years. It requires a photo ID, fingerprints, proof of registry – residency, and handgun competency. There is a background check.

Let's look at background checks, guns versus cars. For cars, you need to have a proof of insurance, a bill of sale, the title. There's a vin verification, your vehicle ID number. There's a photo ID, there's an emissions test, there's a proof of insurance, there's a license that's renewed every five years. These are not the same level of paperwork, if you will.

CLARENCE PAGE [COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE]: Not at all.

TODD: You know, Mike Viqueira, when you look at it, with cars, you have to, you know, you have to do a lot more things every year to sort of prove it.

MIKE VIQUEIRA: Well, I mean, look-

TODD: And it could be a deadly weapon if misused.

VIQUEIRA: Sure.

TODD: A gun, obviously, becomes a deadly weapon, arguably – sometimes if you use it correctly, it's a deadly weapon, but if you, certainly if you use it incorrectly, it gets in the wrong hands. It's sort of this line of, is there – what about more regulation of gun ownership rather than restricting gun ownership?

VIQUEIRA: You know, I hate to speak in esoteric terms, but it, I mean, clearly the anti-gun control, pro-gun rights crowd has won the argument at this point. Because this is a – they've succeeded in framing the issue as one of essential American national values. It's almost a-

TODD: It's a values issue, it's not a – nobody has sort of a rational policy debate about it.

VIQUEIRA: Right. So, I mean, it's become a complete political loser here in Washington and I know we've already gone over that. And it's been that way since 1994. Two cities that have known their share of handgun violence, Chicago and Washington, have had their handgun bans thrown out, the assault weapons ban has expired. You've seen everybody from Harry Reid on down. I've seen Carolyn McCarthy give a lot of moving speeches on the-

TODD: I know, I've seen her give that speech – I've seen her give that speech, you know, a couple times a year and it goes nowhere.

VIQUEIRA: And even she knows it's going nowhere. And the NRA's reached almost this mythical status in Washington.

TODD: But you know, the NRA argument always is, in Chicago, the criminals will break the law to get guns.

PAGE: I'll be even more blatant that, Democrats have made a decision after Gore's loss in 2000 that the gun issue is a loser, they want to expand their tent and they want to reach those the guys out there, especially white male voters, in particular, who are part of that core group-

TODD: In Ohio and Pennsylvania and Michigan.

PAGE: Right, in those swing states. And I'm a native Ohioan from John Boehner's district, so I know what I'm talking about. And the fact is that this is a cultural thing. But I did a column this morning comparing Colorado with New York, which has one of the toughest, but fair, gun registration policies. And there this shooter in Colorado probably would not have gotten his permit, because they interview not just the person applying, but also references that you provide. And they would have found out about-

TODD: They basically – you have more paperwork to fill out to get a gun in New York than you do to get a car.

PAGE: Right. And state trooper's interview you...

TODD: That's sort of the point, in Colorado

PAGE: ...but you can't get the permit.

TODD: That's right. In Colorado, nobody is restricting you, saying you can't buy a gun, they're just saying, you've got to fill out a lot of paperwork.

LIZ SIDOTI [NATIONAL POLITICAL EDITOR, ASSOCIATED PRESS]: There's something else adding to the politics of all of this. I mean, no, car registration is not politicized, gun registration is. And that's because, you know, the freedom to drive a car is not enshrined in the Constitution, the freedom to bear arms is. And so, so there is-

TODD: And that's ultimately the issue, but nobody is saying you can't add regulation. You just can't restrict-

SIDOTI: Right. But I agree with Clarence, the Democrats recognize it is a loser.

VIQUEIRA: John Hickenlooper on the Sunday shows in the aftermath of the tragedy is sort of giving very ambiguous answers about gun control. You know, the Democratic governor of Colorado. I mean, it just bolsters the case.

TODD: It is. I'll tell you, the ammunition thing, though, I do think that if there's any momentum, the idea that you can buy all that ammunition on the internet, that's one of those you wonder, maybe everybody rallies around that, because you get the sense, maybe something should be-

PAGE: Except for gun owners who do buy bullets in bulk, but it does sound shocking to people who don't have guns in the house.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC