CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Carolyn McCarthy
Date: Dec. 16, 2012
Location: Unknown

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REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY, D-N.Y.: I came into Congress because a tragedy had happened to my family and to others on the Long Island Railroad. And when my son was learning how to talk again, you know, he asked me how this could happen. I didn't have an answer. And that's when I started to look into the gun violence in this country.

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CROWLEY: Now, New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy is determined to make sure the president stands behind his call for meaningful change on gun control.

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CROWLEY: Since the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007, there have been 19 of what the FBI classifies as mass shootings in the United States. What there hasn't been is what President Obama is now calling for, meaningful change in the gun laws.

Joining me now is New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.

Congresswoman McCarthy, thank you so much. I must say when I listened to the president -- on Friday, I believe it was -- I didn't hear him talk about new laws. I heard him talk about meaningful change. Do you think, have you talked to the president, and do you think he will now push what you're wanting to do, vis-a-vis gun laws?

MCCARTHY: Well, to be very honest with you, I know that the president could be talking from the bully pulpit. Certainly we can hopefully work together on passing some legislation that has certainly been introduced every year.

But what the president can do is an executive order to tighten up some of the laws that are still already out there. "The New York Times" released a report yesterday and this morning that basically was talking about a bill that was passed in 2008, right after Virginia Tech, that was a bill that I got passed through the House, through the Senate, and President Bush signed that.

But the problem with that is that there has never been enough money there to have all the courts -- anybody that's been adjudicated through the courts, whether for any crime that would already basically not allow someone to own a gun, to be put into the NIX system, the instant background check system.

So that's something he can do. The heavy lifting is going to have to come from Congress and it will, but if he is willing to use the bully pulpit, he can actually help us.

President Clinton did that. It was a tough struggle, but he got it through. And for some reason -- and I personally feel because it was so many children involved, the attitudes of the American people are little bit different than they were before Friday.

CROWLEY: So, and by it, I believe you mean the -- an assault weapons ban, is that what you're talking about, that the president would get behind that, which expired probably more than 10 years ago?

MCCARTHY: Yes. That expired in the year 2004. I know Senator Feinstein has been working on a new assault weapons bill. She's been working on it for a while.

CROWLEY: Right.

MCCARTHY: With the intention of most likely introducing it over the first of the year when we go into a new session. And we're going to be working with her on that.

But the 208 bill that was passed, is the NIX Improvement Act. And basically what that does is go to the courts because we found when people that were adjudicated to be mentally ill, and that happened with the Virginia Tech shooting, that the records never went into the instant background check. But it would cover anyone -- domestic violence, felonies; he could do something big on that right away. And then like I said, we would have to work together.

CROWLEY: Right. And as -- in fact, Senator Feinstein said this morning she would introduce an assault weapons ban bill and, in fact, try to cut down on some of the large capacity magazines that can shoot 30, 40, 100 rounds of ammunition in 30 seconds or something, but let me -- let me go back, because you're right; the Virginia Tech shooter did, in fact, have a mental health history that, had he been be in the records, it might have halted him from getting the guns.

But there have been other cases -- in Tucson, for instance -- and so far as we know, at least, in this case, there's no mental health background. So in the end, that might help, but it might not have prevented this. And it might not have prevented what went on in Tucson.

And with that in mind, I wanted to play you something that the former Education Secretary, Bill Bennett, said this morning, talking about security around schools.

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BILL BENNETT, FORMER SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: I'm not so sure I wouldn't want one person in a school armed, ready for this kind of thing.

The principal lunged at this guy. The school psychologist lunged at the guy. Has to be someone who's trained, has to be someone who's responsible, but, my God, if you can prevent this kind of thing.

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CROWLEY: So, Congresswoman, what about that, because that's the push from the other side, that they were just completely defenseless inside this school.

What would you think about something like that that Bill Bennett is talking about?

MCCARTHY: Well, to be very honest with you, going back again after the Virginia Tech legislation was put into Leave No Child Behind which basically I authored, and that was to prepare the schools -- and by the way the school at Connecticut did everything right and they did. They had the lockdown.

But people have to understand we cannot save every life. There's no law that could do that. And as far as having more guns, we have more guns in this country than any other civilized nation.

It has to be looked at holistically. We have to look at mental health, we have to look at those signs that led up to the other shootings. And now we're seeing that people talking about this particular shooter also had signs. So I mean it's a combination of things that we can do on the social level. We can ask people, and certainly children have been trained, especially high school kids, you know, if you see a classmate that is acting strange or teachers seeing someone that might be anti- social, to make sure that that young person gets some help.

We don't have the answer for every single situation. That should not prevent us for the bigger picture, when you look at an awful lot of these killers that were mentally ill, the signs were there, but unfortunately nobody picked up for them.

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