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Joining us now is Diana DeGette. She`s a Democratic congresswoman
from Colorado, her district borders Aurora, Colorado, which is the site of
last year`s mass shooting in a movie theater. Her district now includes
Littleton, Colorado, which is the site of the Columbine shootings as well,
Congresswoman DeGette, thank you very much for being with us.
REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: Rachel, it`s good to be with you.
MADDOW: Are you encouraged looking across the country by that New
York initiative Andrew Cuomo today, spearheading it not only as a governor,
but pledging to work with his legislature to tighten New York`s already
relatively tight gun laws? Are you encouraged by that today?
DEGETTE: I`m encouraged by what Governor Cuomo is doing. I`m
encouraged by my governor and my legislature which convened today and
immediately started talking about stopping this terrible gun violence. I`m
encouraged by the White House`s initiative.
I think finely, after aurora last summer and now the terrible tragedy
at Sandy Hook, finally people are realizing that the American public, the
moms and dads of this country have to speak up. And I`ve been working on
gun issues for 20 years.
And I`ve never seen such a deep sense of outrage and a deep sense of
commitment to doing something.
MADDOW: That sense of outrage and that sense of commitment, does that
also extend to your constituents and the Coloradans that you talk to who
are themselves gun owners, who may be hunters, may be sportsmen, people who
see themselves as pro Second Amendment?
DEGETTE: Oh, yes. You know, I`m a Westerner. I come from a family
of hunters. And we respect guns out here. We use them to hunt.
But people who I`ve been talking to, they can`t understand why you
would need an assault rifle or why you need one of these assault magazines
to go out hunting. I mean, a magazine that holds 30 or 100 rounds. You`re
not going to use that to shoot a deer. You`re either going to use that for
target practice or to shoot people.
And frankly, the slight inconvenience to target hunters to have to
reload that magazine is so slight that I think most Americans agree things
like that need to be limited.
MADDOW: In terms of the White House initiative, which you said you
are encouraged by, it was interesting today. Vice President Biden and
Attorney General Eric Holder today met with victims of gun violence and
advocates for gun reform. We know they`re meeting with gun rights groups,
including the NRA tomorrow.
But in that sort of brief photo-op before the meeting started, Vice
President Biden talked about the president`s commitment to do something,
whether or not Congress can get something passed, talking about the taking
the holistic that includes both legislation that they will try to push
through Congress, but also executive action by the White House and the
administration where that`s possible. What is your reaction to that?
DEGETTE: I think it`s great. I think after the 1994 assault weapons
ban, a lot of people thought that -- there is the 1993 ban. And a lot of
people thought that the Democrats lost Congress in 1994 because of that. I
don`t think that`s completely true, but I do think it might have been
partially true in some districts.
What happened after that, I`ve been in Congress since 1997, is despite
the horrors that happened, Columbine, which is now in my district, Aurora
outside my district, Virginia Tech, on and on and on, a group of us have
been working really hard, led by Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York
to try to put some reasonable control on these weapons that only kill
And we haven`t been able to get people to work with us because they
were afraid of the NRA. Now what you`re seeing from the highest levels is
a commitment to a holistic approach. And I just think that it`s so far
past time for that. I`m very encouraged by it.
MADDOW: I think -- I feel like there has been a sea change in the
politics, and people who are still talking about the NRA being an absolute
block toward anything even being considered are living in the past. That`s
how I read it. But we will see.
DEGETTE: I will say -- I will say, Rachel, I do think there are still
members of Congress who think that the NRA is untouchable.
But they`re hearing from their constituents -- 82 percent of Americans
think that some of these things need to be controlled. And those 82
percent of Americans need to call their members of Congress, their house
and senate members and tell them, even if they support Second Amendment
rights and gun ownership, we don`t need these assault rifles, and we don`t
need these assault magazines.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado -- thank you so much
for your time. It`s really nice to have you.
DEGETTE: Great to be with you, again, Rachel. Thanks.
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