Howard Fineman to Democrats On Guns: 'You Gonna Do Something Now?!'

Newsweek's Howard Fineman's first instinct when he heard about the Virgina Tech shootings was to call up Capitol Hill and ask members for gun control legislation. On this weekend's syndicated Chris Matthews Show, the Newsweek reporter admitted "the first thing he did" was call the Democrats to demand: "Okay, you gonna do something now?!"

The following conversation occurred on the April 22nd edition of The Chris Matthews Show:

Chris Matthews: "Let's go to a more familiar terrain for us all: policy and politics. Just a week ago, the NRA held its national convention. Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre warned the members of the NRA that the Democratic Congress will threaten gun freedoms. Quote, this is Wayne LaPierre: 'Today, there is not one firearm owner whose freedom is secure.' Polls do show a majority of Americans now want gun access restricted. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week is working on a bill that would prevent gun access by the mentally ill. Congressman John Dingell of Michigan is negotiating with the NRA right now on this, to try to tighten up the laws, give states enough money so they can find people like Cho, who've been through this system, been identified, and make sure they don't buy guns. Is that gonna work?"

Howard Fineman: "I think it might. As a political reporter, of course, the first thing I did was call the Hill and find out from the Democratic leadership, 'Okay, you gonna do something now?!' And the answer I was told, bluntly by Democratic leaders on the Hill, is ‘We are not going to touch it in the macro sense, but this question-"

Matthews: "What do they mean by that? They're not going to address the Second Amendment issue?"

Fineman: "They're not, they're not going to go straight at the Second Amendment issue. If you look at the Electoral College map, you see Ohio, you see West Virginia, you see Pennsylvania, you see Wisconsin, they're not going to do it. Their whole modern mentality is built on avoiding that issue. But John Dingell, who is smart, as a Democrat and an NRA guy, is trying to draw the NRA into at least this one small incremental thing about making sure that mental health records and other state police records-"

Matthews: "Yeah."

Fineman: "-get into the Insta-Check system. What happened in Virginia is, they have Insta-Check, this guy had no criminal record. He had a mental record, which they knew nothing about. By law, they should've known about that. They should've known about it."

Matthews: "Will the Democrats pay a price for the, and I've heard this, that Hillary Clinton has made it, has assured that Dingell's, especially, John Dingell, that there's not going to be any Second Amendment issue in this upcoming campaign. They do not want this to be the fight."

Fineman: "Now, there was a dignified conversation."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.