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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript - NRA and Gun Control

Interview

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Location: Unknown

MATTHEWS: Well, Congressman Cummings, here it is, a piece titled "Stand
and Fight."

The NRA`s Wayne LaPierre worked all the levers of the fear machine -- quote
-- "During the second Obama term, additional threats are growing, Latin
American drug gangs have invaded every significant city of size in the
United States." Then LaPierre shifted gears and used Hurricane Sandy to
stoke more fear -- quote -- "After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish
world that the gun prohibitionists -- prohibitionists" -- one who are for
prohibiting it -- "say -- see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in South
Brooklyn. There was no food, water, or electricity. If you wanted to walk
several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark or you might
not get home at all."

And then LaPierre wrapped it up with a defiant call to arms -- quote -- "We
will not surrender, we will not appease, we will buy more guns than ever."

Your reading of that. Who is he talking to?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I think he`s talking to people who
will be accepting of fear.

He basically is trying to put fear into people`s hearts. And if you read
it carefully, you would think that it was an advertisement for gun
manufacturers. The fact is, is that we have got -- basically, I see it as
a distraction.

We have got to concentrate on Sandy Hook. We have got to concentrate on
what`s going on in our inner cities and folks getting guns that shouldn`t
have them. And I think that -- I think what Mr. LaPierre is doing is -- to
be frank with you, he`s shooting himself in the foot and shooting the NRA
in the foot, because in talking to some of my colleagues on the Republican
side today, a lot of them are embarrassed and upset about it, but they are
afraid to speak out about it.

But one thing that they are definitely not in agreement with it, and I
think some are going to see this as cover to stand up against the NRA. You
know, we have commonsense legislation against trafficking which is a
bipartisan bill.

MATTHEWS: I know you do. Good for you.

CUMMINGS: And Scott Rigell is -- who is one of our co-sponsors, is an NRA
member...

(CROSSTALK)

CUMMINGS: ... and a Republican.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s true. But I went back and looked -- Governor, I
want to get you in here.

I went back and looked at the Republican platform last time around. It was
all pro-gun on every aspect, every front, not a single word challenging the
NRA. I have yet to see -- I accept the fact that, Congressman, you have
colleagues and good friends that are willing to speak candidly with you, as
they clearly have. They ain`t going on television saying anything against
LaPierre.

CUMMINGS: I agree. They ought to.

MATTHEWS: This guy is the boss, as far as I can see.

CUMMINGS: I agree. I agree.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Governor, he looks like he`s the boss. It`s like when Rush
Limbaugh speaks and everybody go hides in a cave because they`re afraid of
Rush Limbaugh. This guy, no matter what he says, if it has a racial tinge,
they don`t call him out on it. Nobody seems to do it on the Republican
side.

RENDELL: And it`s mind-boggling to me, Chris, because the polls are
absolutely clear.

CUMMINGS: Yes.

RENDELL: Overwhelming number of Americans disagree with Wayne LaPierre on
this stuff, and where are the moderate Republicans? Where are the Jim
Gerlachs and the Charlie Dents and the Charlie Fitzpatricks and the Pat
Meehans in the Philadelphia suburbs? Do they think that this is acceptable
stuff?

Are they going to stand and hide behind, you know, a curtain and not come
out and say stuff? And what are they going to do when it comes time to
cast their votes? Are they going to vote to eliminate high-capacity
magazines? Are they going to vote to eliminate assault rifles? Are they
going to vote to make universal background checks the law of the land?

Are they going to vote for that gun trafficking bill that Congressman
Cummings is talking about? It`s time that we call those guys on the carpet
and said, who are you for, us or the NRA?

MATTHEWS: Well, they`re talking now with their silence. LaPierre, by the
way, even called into question now what would happen with the economic fear
we all have in this country about, you know, budget stops and debt ceilings
and all that stuff.

He said leading this country to financial ruin right now, he talked about,
and warned that even when these days of chaos come afterwards, you better
be armed about it -- quote -- "Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse
will come. But if the country is broke, there`s likely to be not enough
money to pay for police protection, and the American people know it."

When Wayne LaPierre testified before Congress, by the way, he emphasized
this fear, that people have got to protect themselves from marauding mobs
and the government might not be able to do the job.

Let`s listen to him on that point again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: I
also think though that what people all over the country fear today is being
abandoned by their government, if a tornado hits, if a hurricane hits, if a
riot occurs, that they`re going to be out there alone, and the only way
they`re going to protect themselves in the cold, in the dark, when they`re
vulnerable is with a firearm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, Congressman, what he`s really appealing to here, if
you have studied the groups like survivalist groups and Posse Comitatus
that live up in the hills of Idaho, you know them all, he wants everybody
in America to start acting like a survivalist.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You have got to be -- you have got to have a -- in some -- you
have got to be in some barricade situation with lots of guns to protect
yourself against minorities, against illegal immigrants, against the
government. You got a lot of enemies out there, and it may be your
neighbor trying to get a loaf of bread from your kitchen. You may have to
shoot him.

CUMMINGS: Well, basically, he`s trying to paint this doomsday scenario.
But I think LaPierre is -- I don`t even think he`s in touch with his own
membership, when 82 percent are saying that they believe in comprehensive
background checks, and 87 percent are saying they truly believe that there
should not be -- criminals should not have guns. He`s clearly out of tune.
And again I think -- I`m convinced that this is going to work against
Republicans who don`t stand up.

MATTHEWS: Well, when is that going to start, Congressman?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, remember back George Bush Sr. back when he was ex-
president, he was a good man about this.

When they -- when LaPierre put out a letter about calling federal agents,
ATF and other people, FBI agents, jackbooted thugs, he said, I`m quitting.
I just don`t hear the sound of Republicans quitting because of Wayne
LaPierre`s craziness. I haven`t heard it yet. Have you heard of anybody
quitting the NRA who is Republican?

CUMMINGS: I have not heard anybody quitting, but I will say that Meehan,
Patrick Meehan out of Pennsylvania, is a co-sponsor of our bill and
hopefully they -- and we have gotten five co-sponsors from the Republican
side.

MATTHEWS: I know.

CUMMINGS: And hopefully we will get even more, and maybe, just maybe, that
will cause others to stand up, and then when you hear the words of
LaPierre, and everybody ought to read what he read -- wrote, by the way.

MATTHEWS: I hope so.

CUMMINGS: I think that people will distance themselves more and more from
him.

MATTHEWS: Well, the problem is...

(CROSSTALK)

RENDELL: Chris, could I add...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Pat Meehan did not -- he came out for your trafficking bill last
night, as he should. He`s a co-sponsor with you . I understand that`s a
good thing to do.

But I tried to get him on assault weapons, I tried to get him on magazines.
He won`t do it, even in suburban and Delaware County.

Your thoughts. Last thought, Governor.

RENDELL: You know, that`s the key.

Congressman Cummings, can you tell everybody, is -- are the Pat Meehans of
the world going to vote a discharge petition if Speaker Boehner will not
allow these things to be voted on, on the floor of the House? And that`s
what the president said, they deserve a vote. Will the Pat Meehans of the
world, those Republicans vote discharge petition to get it to the floor?

CUMMINGS: I think -- a comprehensive bill, I don`t think so. I just -- I
have listened to them. And -- but on this vote, maybe, the trafficking
bill, maybe.

But, again, I don`t want -- I want -- if we can agree on some things, I
want us to get those things done. Things we don`t agree on, we will have
to deal with them another day.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.

CUMMINGS: But the sad part is, you do -- you end up doing nothing, which
is sad.

MATTHEWS: I agree. That`s one counter. But I also want to smoke these
guys out.

Anyway, thank you, Elijah Cummings, congressman from Maryland.

CUMMINGS: Thank you.


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