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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript


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MATTHEWS: Well, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California was among a
group of House Democrats who met with Vice President Biden today. She
herself is a shooting victim. And David Corn is Washington bureau chief
for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC political analyst.
Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.


MATTHEWS: What can you tell us on the record tonight about what might be
in the vice president`s package of proposals?

SPEIER: I think what you heard the president say will certainly be in that
He also -- Vice President Biden indicated that there were some 19 areas
that he was able to identify that the president could take action on
through executive order. He didn`t go into detail on what they might be,
but suffice it to say that there will be some considered that will not
require congressional action. The vice president did a great job of
meeting with 270 people representing every imaginable interest on this
And I think it`s the most comprehensive look at guns in probably a
generation coming from the White House.

MATTHEWS: Well, you represent an area of the country out on the coast, just
south of San Francisco, and more liberal than the rest of the country. But
in this big heartland of our country, right really in the middle, it`s so
pro-gun rights. What do you think has the best chance of passing the
Congress in both Houses, Republican and Democrat?

SPEIER: I think a universal background check is absolutely imperative.
Forty percent of the guns that are purchased in this country right now do
not go through that background check, either because they`re at local gun
shows or personal sales, private sales.
So the fact that even that database we have does not include --


SPEIER: -- persons who are on the terror watch list or persons who are
fugitives from the law or who are stalkers, I think it`s given us all
reason to pause to think what are we doing here? At the very least we have
to have a comprehensive background check.

MATTHEWS: David, studying in politics in the way you study it, what`s the
best bet? I think it is background checks.


MATTHEWS: And I think it has more influence than, say, the high magazines,
the high capacity magazines, because it really does keep bad people away
from the guns, potentially.

CORN: Yes, if you can do it because, you know, just getting the data
available if you want to include people with mental difficulties and
criminal checks, I mean, the NRA has opposed this time and time again.
They don`t want a database because they don`t want these background checks.
I mean --

MATTHEWS: Why are they against them?

CORN: Because they don`t want any limitations on people to buy guns,
including people who shouldn`t be able to buy guns. I mean, 46 percent, as
the congresswoman just said, don`t -- can buy guns without having to go
through a background check because they go to gun shows, they buy online,
or they buy from the buddy down the street or some guy they met in the bar
five minutes ago.
And the NRA has consistently fought against doing anything about those sort
of gun sales. Now, I think this is --

MATTHEWS: Why don`t they sell guns in bars? I mean, there`s a point where
any reasonable person says, no, don`t sell guns in bar rooms, tap rooms.

CORN: A big issue that the congresswoman and the vice president and
everyone has to take into account, if you look back in `94 when Bill
Clinton got the ban on assault weapons through, he did that as part of a
big crime bill with a lot of stuff the conservatives wanted, like expanding
the death penalty. You know, if you do it bit by bit, or if it`s a bill
just about gun safety or gun violence prevention, it may be harder to get

MATTHEWS: But let me ask the congresswoman, we have her now. Do you think
we can get a government -- something through the Congress that doesn`t get
encased in some big right center left package which includes some things
liberals won`t like?

SPEIER: Well, I think anything that does pass is going to have to have
something appealing to the right and to the left. And certainly, the
interests of those who are hunters in terms of making sure that the
conservation dollars are there so that there`s plenty of ducks to be shot
at has appeal as well.
So I think we`ve got to make very clear to the American people, though,
we`re not talking about taking guns away from anyone. The Second Amendment
is very clear. The Heller Supreme Court decision made it very clear.
We`re not talking about those who are hunters and who use it for recreation
or those who keep them in their homes for personal safety.
We`re talking about these guns that massively destroy people and that are
assault weapons for military action.

MATTHEWS: Well said. Do you think we can do it?

SPEIER: Well --

CORN: I hope so. I hope -- you know, Bill Clinton was smart last time.
He surrounded himself with cops and public safety advocates and built a big
coalition, another type that the congresswoman would want to be part of.
You got to keep the pressure on and make this really a neighborhood issue
with people other than just the people who care about gun control leading
the charge.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you. My wife started in politics,
actually ended in politics working for Pete McCloskey, who has become more
liberal than any of us at this table.

SPEIER: That`s right. A great friend.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Congresswoman.


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