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MSNBC Hardball-Transcript

Press Release

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MATTHEWS: Thank you, David.

We‘re back with New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.

And we will be joined now—we‘re joined now by Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston.

Congressman Kingston...

REP. JACK KINGSTON ®, GEORGIA: Hey, Chris.

MATTHEWS: ... your sense about this tragedy and its relationship to gun availability. What do you see as the connection?

KINGSTON: Well, I think one of the—the hard problems you have in a free country is that you have madmen, crazy, deranged people, who, unfortunately, have access to public places, and, sadly, in this case, had access legally to be able to buy a gun.

And that‘s one of the great challenges. Do you penalize law-abiding people to try to eliminate the possibility of a crazy person going ballistic? And—and...

MATTHEWS: Well, literally ballistic.

But what about when you and I go to get a driver‘s license as kids? We have to take a written exam. We have to show up somewhere so somebody can see if we‘re sweating or look a little crazy. We sort of have to behave in a civilized fashion and go through a training. You have to know when to stop at a stoplight. You have to know the rules. You have to know how to use the car.

Why is it you can go into a gun shop and buy a gun on demand...

KINGSTON: Well...

MATTHEWS: ... without any questions asked?

KINGSTON: I think, in this case, that—he had to show two I.D.s. And he acted normal. There wasn‘t a background check or anything like that.

And, frankly, Chris, I think, if that‘s something that we should discuss down the road, then I think, if we can show that that‘s relevant to preventing a crime—you know, I want to point out it‘s real important, while we‘re very emotionally wrapped up in this, as we should be—I have got three college kids. One, incidentally, is in the state of Virginia. I mean, this touches everybody. We‘re all very saddened by this.

MATTHEWS: OK.

KINGSTON: But...

MATTHEWS: Congressman, hold on there, please. Thank you for joining us.

KINGSTON: OK.

MATTHEWS: Just hold on. We‘re going to watch right now as the governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, and Virginia Tech officials from the university itself give us an update on the massacre.

Let‘s listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First, you‘re going to hear from the superintendent of the Virginia State Police. That is Colonel W. Steven, with a V—S-T-E-V-E-N—Flaherty, F as in Frank, L-A-H-E-R-T-Y. He is the superintendent of the Virginia State Police. He‘s going to make several brief statements, and then he will turn it over to the honorable...

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to—let me go back to Congressman Kingston before we get into the talks here themselves.

Congressman, do you think gun control is going to happen in this Congress?

KINGSTON: I don‘t think it will.

MATTHEWS: Do you think it‘s going to be part of the presidential debate as we go into 2008?

KINGSTON: I think it will—I think it will be part of the debate. But, you know, it‘s interesting. In the statements issued by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, they did not talk about the need for further gun control at all.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think they avoided that, even though you know that they have an interest in that area?

KINGSTON: Well, you know, interestingly in the countries that have had stricter gun control, three specifically, Ireland, Great Britain, and in Australia, which have implemented those since 1996, it has not brought down the murder rate or the gun crime rate.

And, you know, I think, also, if you look at what‘s happened in places like Paris, Switzerland and Germany, where you have had very, very strict gun control, they still have had random acts similar to this. In Germany, 16 people were killed by a disgruntled student.

MATTHEWS: But, Congressman, you have seen statistics where there are more people killed in Los Angeles than are killed in Europe on a given night by gun killing.

KINGSTON: Yes. Well, I mean, think about, in Germany, they had this

they had a disgruntled student who killed 16 people at his school. He went back because he was suspended.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

KINGSTON: In Switzerland—you know, calm, peaceful Switzerland—a guy goes into parliament a couple of years ago and killed 14 people. Then, in Paris, where they have the—probably the strictest gun control laws on the planet, eight people were killed at city hall, and I think something like 40 were shot.

So, you know, a lot of times stricter gun control laws do not get the intended results.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Just to keep in perspective, in America, over the last several years, you can fill a baseball stadium with murder victims. I mean, you can have a good Tuesday night crowd of dead people killed every year in this country with gun violence.

You know that, Congressman.

KINGSTON: Yes.

And, you know, but if you look at—for example, the Brady gun control group rates Virginia as having a C-minus in gun control laws. The same group gives Washington, D.C., a B. And, yet, Washington, D.C., has a higher murder and gun violence rate than Virginia.

MATTHEWS: Because, well—Carolyn—Congresswoman, why don‘t you respond to that?

For the obvious reason that you can cross the river and buy a gun.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: That‘s the problem. The guns are being bought in Virginia or in other outlying states. And that‘s what the problem is.

KINGSTON: But then—but...

MCCARTHY: And we have seen a dramatic drop in gun violence in D.C. at this particular time.

And I‘m sure that, if we had kept that in place—and we will battle that—that we will hopefully see it even go down further.

KINGSTON: But, I mean, I would say to you, if they‘re going over to Virginia to buy the guns, then why isn‘t Virginia having the same murder rate?

The statistics just don‘t bear it. The Department of Justice, the Center for Disease Control, the Congressional Research Center have all done studies in the last three or four years, and have shown that gun control does not necessarily bring down the gun violence and the murder rate.

And that‘s extremely important to the debate. And that‘s one thing that we need to look about this situation. What could have been done to prevent it?

And I—you know, it‘s easy to say, "Well, he shouldn‘t have been able to buy a weapon." You know, well, he was a law-abiding citizen. He was a legal alien. Maybe legal aliens should not be able to do it without a background check...

MATTHEWS: Should he be allowed to buy a clip with 15 rounds on it?

(CROSSTALK)

KINGSTON: Well, I don‘t know what the Virginia gun law is. And I don‘t know how relevant that is, Chris.

But I think something like that is worth discussing.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here we go.

I‘m sorry, Congressman.

Let‘s go now with the officials and the state officials speaking in Virginia.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Carolyn McCarthy, the U.S. congresswoman from the state of New York, who lost her husband in a shooting spree back in 1993, and has been dedicated to the cause of gun control, and Jack Kingston, who we‘ve been also talking to, from Georgia. Congressman Kingston, will this lead to a debate on gun availability or not?

KINGSTON: Well, I don‘t know if this necessarily will. I think that Carolyn has raised a good point that she has consistently called for more gun control, as have other members of Congress and state legislatures, as well. So, I think, during the course of the year Congress will debate gun laws. Whether this is going to be catalyst to it or not is left to be seen.

One of the things the governor pointed out very clearly is right now it‘s time to comfort these families and then look at the after action review and see if something else is out there that could have prevented that. I think Congress would probably be in a position of let‘s take a look at what the after action review is and the findings .

MATTHEWS: What do you make of that call for letting things cool off before you debate gun control?

MCCARTHY: I have been in Congress long enough. It‘s almost like calling for another study, in other words, delay and hopefully it will go away.

MATTHEWS: And you don‘t think we should have a delay?

MCCARTHY: No, I don‘t think we should have delay. We did that right after Columbine. And obviously we weren‘t able to do anything. By then the NRA came out, got all their soldiers up in order, and nothing was done.

KINGSTON: Chris, let me point out something I think is very important, Columbine; 20 existing gun control laws were broken. It is very hard to prevent the acts of a mad man, as I pointed out earlier in the case in Paris, where eight city councilmen are killed, and 14 members of parliament in Switzerland, and then 16 kids in Germany in a school. These are very, very strict gun control countries and cities. And yet, you still have the acts of a mad man. I think that‘s why that‘s very relevant to --

MCCARTHY: Jack, if I could interrupt you. I certainly agree with you that we can‘t save every single person, but when we have over 30,000 people killed a year, whether it‘s suicide, whether it‘s homicide, or whether accidental death, there are things that we can do, without the right of being able—I‘m not looking to take away the right of someone to own guns.

What I‘m looking for is how are we going we save those lives and the thousands and thousands of lives that are injured because of gun violence every year, which is costing this country over 200 billion dollars a year in health care costs. And I think that‘s something we need to address.

MATTHEWS: That‘s U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York State, Congressman Jack Kingston. Thank you, sir, for joining us on this tragic day.


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