In what has become a daily theme, once again, MSNBC is pushing a one-sided discussion on gun control. Speaking on Monday, January 28 with Dan Gross, the President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), host Thomas Roberts continued to lobby for congressional action for strict gun control. Naturally, Roberts failed to bring on a pro-gun rights advocate nor to feature one in a subsequent segment.
Roberts began the segment by hyping a New York Times article describing:
Some gun groups were seeking to, quote, introduce children to high powered rifles and handguns while invoking the same rationale of those older, more traditional programs that firearms can teach life skills like responsibility, ethics, and citizenship.
Roberts set up Gross to slam the NRA by asking his opinion on the gun safety program. Gross, of course, swung for the fences at this softball:
Basically it exposes the true colors of the gun lobby. You know, they're not concerned in the gun industry. They're not concerned about the prevention of gun violence. They're just concerned about selling more guns.
Roberts continued the segment by trying to paint pro-gun rights individuals as having an irrational fear of gun control:
So what is it that's so frightening to those people out there that support guns and gun ownership that think that taking assault weapons and these military style weapons is infringing from their rights?
As with the majority of gun control segments on MSNBC, no pro-gun representatives are ever invited on to speak on behalf of the Second Amendment. Instead, Roberts has continued the long list of MSNBCers who are pushing for greater gun control and concluded the segment by musing, "Is there enough appetite in Washington, D.C., to provide the American people with comprehensive policy reform on both issues?"
See relevant transcript below.
January 28, 2013
11:33 a.m. EST
THOMAS ROBERTS: You know, as the President turns up the heat on the campaign for gun control, it seems that gun rights advocates are upping the ante on recruiting their target. Children. Joining me Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California who was just appointed to a new gun violence prevention task force. As well as Dan Gross president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. It’s good to have you both here. And I want to start out with this New York Times report that it found that some gun groups were seeking to, quote, introduce children to high powered rifles and handguns while invoking the same rationale of those older, more traditional programs that firearms can teach life skills like responsibility, ethics, and citizenship. I want to get both of your reactions. Congresswoman, I'll start with you. What's your reaction to this?
JACKIE SPEIER: I think it's ironic that on the one hand they are doing research on how to attract children to guns. And yet want to prevent and have been successful in preventing the Congress and the CDC from researching gun violence prevention. So it reminds me a lot of the Joe Camel commercials and the efforts to try and encourage kids to smoke.
THOMAS: With the logic being, Dan, that the Second Amendment is not going anywhere and the right to bear arms exists, playing devil's advocate here, doesn't it make sense to try to educate our youth about the responsibility of using a firearm, the dangers of using a firearm?
DAN GROSS: Yeah. In a true way, to educate young people about both the responsibility and the true dangers, that's not a bad thing. What is a bad thing is blatantly marketing these guns to young people. Basically it exposes the true colors of the gun lobby. You know, they're not concerned in the gun industry. They're not concerned about the prevention of gun violence. They're just concerned about selling more guns. You know, the rest of the American public wants to engage in a meaningful conversation about exactly what you're saying. What we can do respectful of the second amendment right to own guns, respectful of the fact that hunting and target shooting and protection are deeply ingrained notions. And, you know, in a lot of our country. But have that conversation simultaneous to the risks associated with having guns in the home and what we can do to prevent tragedies.
THOMAS: Sure. The tragedy that is most fresh on everyone's mind, Newtown. Right now there's a hearing under way in Connecticut about stopping gun violence. And some of the victims' families are testifying. Take a listen.
NEIL HESLIN: I'm never going to have my son back. I accepted what happened that day when it happened. I didn't like it. I couldn't change it. He wouldn't want me to sit around crying or feeling bad. I'm now trying to do something to help him, help the other victims.
ROBERTS: Neil's son was Jesse Lewis there. And this is a live image of the testimony that continues there. One thing also I want to pass along is the fact that New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly appeared on the Sunday talk shows yesterday. He was asked about the assault weapons ban. And this is his answer, saying that they're not the big problem. Take a listen.
RAY KELLY: For us in New York City, and I believe in most urban centers throughout America, the problem really is concealable handguns. Only 2% of the people that we've arrested for guns in the last two years have had assault weapons.
ROBERTS: So, Congresswoman, a lot of Republicans have jumped on that. Being that they're coming after our guns. Obviously Ray Kelly deals with a different type of situation in an urban city center as opposed to someone who lives in rural America. What do you think about his response?
SPEIER: Well, I think he's accurate. And it's very important that we do everything in our power to make sure that people have guns, keep them safe, and use them appropriately. I just had a gun buyback in San Mateo County last weekend. We collected, voluntary buyback, we collected 680 guns. Half of them were handguns. 24 of them were assault weapons. One was a street sweeper. One was a sawed off shotgun with the serial numbers having been erased. So there are guns that should not be in circulation. And we should do everything in our power to get them out of circulation.
THOMAS: You're seeing video of that gun buyback. And it really is amazing. As you point out the type of weapons that are floating out there, certainly the kind that are most scary with the serial numbers that are scratched off. But that's the reality in certain cities, certain places around the country. Dan, in an interview with the New Republic President Obama said he understood where gun owners are coming from. Saying that if you grew up and your dad gave you a hunting rifle when you were 10 and you went out and you spent the day with him and your uncles and that became part of your family's traditions you can see why you'd be pretty protective of that. It's trying to bridge those gaps. And I think that's going to be part of the biggest task over the next several months. He went on to add that he does skeet shoot while at Camp David. So what is it that's so frightening to those people out there that support guns and gun ownership that think that taking assault weapons and these military style weapons is infringing from their rights?
GROSS: Right. I mean, you know, it's basically people buying into the party line of the gun lobby. The reality is when you look at sensible gun control measures, take assault weapons ban, for example, the overwhelming majority not only of the American public, not only of gun owners, but of NRA members are in favor of those measures. Those measures have nothing to do with taking away the second amendment right to bear arms. So, you know, what's happening is the conversation that's being projected out into popular culture is really just a conversation on the extremes. The overwhelming majority of the American public supports these solutions. The only place where it's really an evenly split partisan political debate is in the halls of congress. And that's what we need to change. The president at every turn has underscored his administration's deep belief and respect for the second amendment and for gun owners. And the interview that you were just quoting is yet another example of it. We just need to, you know, educate the American public and inspire the American public to make their voice heard on the issue. Because as the president said when he announced his administration's recommendations from the task force, you know, the only way we're going to create change is if the American public demands it. And it's up to us now.
ROBERTS: Congresswoman, as Dan points out, it really is going to fall on your lap and everyone else's lap on the hill to talk about this type of policy change needed in the country. But as we talk about immigration reform and gun control within the same breath and sentence, is there enough appetite in Washington, D.C., to provide the American people with comprehensive policy reform on both issues?
SPEIER: You know, Thomas, it's our job to do the people's work. And we should have the appetite, as you put it, to do both these issues. Because they're both front burner issues.
ROBERTS: Congresswoman, your reaction to that, saying that it is basically put on you, the cooperation of Congress, to see something get done beyond executive orders from the president?
SPEIER: It is our job. And the president has put forth common sense proposals. Universal background checks requiring every state to offer their crime data is going to be very important in this effort. Assault weapon ban. High capacity magazines. You know, holding 100 round high capacity magazine in my hand on Saturday was unnerving. There's no -- no place for that kind of instrumentality in our civil society.
ROBERTS: Dan, real quickly, do you think 2013 is the year to get this done?
GROSS: I do. The white house is committed. The American public is behind it. And we need to make that voice heard. If we do congress will do the right thing.