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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript - Gun Law Reform


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MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We`re up here in Quincy Market in Boston, Massachusetts, for the big race tomorrow. That was, of course, President Obama at a recent campaign event for the Massachusetts Senate candidate Ed Markey, who`s sitting with me right now.

He`s received some heavyweight endorsements that include the president, the vice president, Bill Clinton, the former president, of course -- he recently stumped for Markey. And the campaign`s playing now in a big way his new Web video out today. Let`s watch.

Well, tomorrow night, Ed Markey faces voters right here as Massachusetts plays host to a rare special election. It`s being held to replace the vacancy left by the secretary of state, John Kerry. And there`s no doubt Democrats see this as a critical race. Their majority in the Senate is down to 54 seats, thanks to Chris Christie`s appointment in New Jersey of a Republican to fill Frank Lautenberg`s seat. Add to that at least five Democratic senators are retiring next year. About 14 others are up for reelection.

Well, the polls have Markey enjoying a fairly sizable lead up here, about 10 points, against the challenger, Gabriel Gomez. In today`s Suffolk poll, for example, the same poll had Markey up 7 points on this month, up 17 points back in May. Well, Markey`s lead now has ranged from plus 3 to plus 20 in other polls. The trend is pretty clear, however. The HuffingtonPost pollster Trendline shows Markey with a consistent lead over the latest. (sic) Their latest has him at 10.

Well, joining me right now is himself, Massachusetts Congressman and dean of the delegation and Senate candidate, Democrat Ed Markey.

Congressman, I have to tell you, it must be -- what is it like to have Obama come up and campaign for you, Bill Clinton come up, campaign for you, Michelle Obama come up and campaign for you, and last but not least, Caroline Kennedy?

REP. ED MARKEY (D-MA), SENATE CANDIDATE: You know, this is political central. We`re in Boston. We`re the hub of the universe. And to have all of those superstars come in absolutely means the world to me, where -- we got the Bruins trying to get the Stanley Cup. All we really read is the political section here and the sports section up here in Boston.


MARKEY: And so for me to have all of those superstars in really has been something that I never would have thought in my life that could have happened.

MATTHEWS: Let me talk to you about this city because I`ve been watching Boston for a long time, trying to figure it out. And I want -- I want some culture from you because you`re from Malden, but you`re from this area. When New York was hit on 9/11, the reaction was, we`re going to get those SOBs. Boston had a somewhat nuanced reaction. Mainly, it was, get the people to the hospital. Let`s take care of our own. Let`s look out for our own. Let`s support the police. It was very -- not to sound too lefty about it -- communitarian.

What is it about the, we will call it the Boston mentality, the Massachusetts mentality? It seems different.

MARKEY: No, I would say we had pretty much the same reaction to New York.

MATTHEWS: As New York?


MATTHEWS: You`re like New York?


MARKEY: Well, in the same way that the first-responders in New York headed towards the trouble, the same thing happened here.

We had the first-responders heading towards where the bombing occurred. We had ordinary citizens responding in extraordinary ways, heading towards the bombing. So, I think the same thing happened in both cities. I think it brought out the best of both cities, and I think that, in that way, we`re just Americans. We`re responding as human beings.

The fact that we don`t like the Yankees or the Rangers or the Knicks is separate from, when a catastrophe happens, how we respond to human suffering.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s the bigger question. Right now, we`re coming off the news now. Edward Snowden, it is like a "Where`s Waldo?" Everybody is trying to decide whether they like him or don`t like him. People on the fringes have already made up their mind.

But 90 percent of the country is trying to figure this guy out. Do you think he`s a good guy or a bad guy?

MARKEY: I think that we have got to be tough on terrorism, but we can`t trample the Constitution.

So I think, like any other person that engages in civil disobedience, as Martin Luther King said, he`s got to pay the price. He should go to jail. He broke the law. But, at the same time, he`s opened up a big, big debate in our country, the line between privacy and security.

We have to make sure that, while the police, while the National Security Agency is looking for a guilty needle, that the tens of millions of Americans who have their haystack of innocent information, their phone calls, their Internet records, are not compromised, unless there is a legally obtained warrant.

MATTHEWS: Based upon what you have seen, do you think they are?

MARKEY: I`m not sure.

I don`t think we really know whether or not there are standards in place to truly protect the innocent. And we need to have that debate in Washington. And, to that extent, this is a very important discussion to have. I have been the founder and co-chair of the Privacy Caucus in Congress. But I have also been a member of the Homeland Security Committee.


MARKEY: We need to do both, and we can do both simultaneously.

MATTHEWS: Would you like to have it where -- I was struck -- I was struck by the other day, a week or two ago, when this story broke about the NSA, that U.S. senators, like Ron Wyden, who you know, from Oregon...

MARKEY: Very well.

MATTHEWS: ... he would actually come out and say, I don`t know anything about this thing.

Is it possible that they`re actually relying on checks and balances if U.S. senators who are smart like Wyden don`t know what`s going on? Is there enough information getting to the Senate, as you know it?

MARKEY: Well, again, we live in a modern world. We no longer live in an analog world. We live in a broadband world. We live in a fiberoptic world. The capacity to gather information is 1,000 times greater than it was.

MATTHEWS: But are senators getting enough information?

MARKEY: I`m not sure that we fully understand what the safeguards are to protect against the compromise of innocent information.


MARKEY: And that`s one of the reasons I want to go to the Senate, to play that role in helping to create that balance.

MATTHEWS: You have had the bombing up here at the marathon. Basically, the bad guys struck one of the great rituals up here, one of the great traditions.

Let`s talk about violence in this country. I don`t understand some of this stuff. I understand deer hunting in Pennsylvania, where I grew up. I understand that, getting a shotgun out or a rifle with a couple of rounds in it. I don`t understand people that want to have semiautomatic weapons at hand. I don`t understand why Mississippi as of tomorrow will have open carry without even a license.

Every single person in Mississippi can now be Matt Dillon or the other side of Matt Dillon. He can be the bad guy, walking around with guns, showing off.

What`s Massachusetts` view of guns?

MARKEY: Well, Massachusetts is not West Virginia. We`re not Pennsylvania. We`re not the laggard. We`re the leader.

So, yes, we need background checks. And now senators from those states can support that. But we go further than that. We don`t know why assault weapons should be on the streets. We don`t know why...

MATTHEWS: Your opponent is for assault weapons?

MARKEY: My opponent says that assault weapons should not be banned. My opponent supports high-capacity magazines. I asked him in the debate last week, where would a civilian in Massachusetts need a weapon that could shoot 100 bullets in under two minutes? And he has no answer for it. Later, he said it was for fun. But the problem is, is that those guns would be in the hands of people who would be causing harm to families not just here in Massachusetts, but across the country.


MARKEY: I want to go down to the fight the NRA on the issue of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. They both should be banned.

MATTHEWS: Well, we invited your opponent, Mr. Gomez, on the show. We will invite him to come on again next time, but he didn`t want to show. Let me ask you about...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... is not a country. It`s England.

MATTHEWS: Oh, good. Sir, OK. This doesn`t make any sense.

Look, I will be right down there in a minute, OK? I will let you talk.

Give me a minute.

MARKEY: Welcome to Boston, Chris.

MATTHEWS: No, it`s great.

MARKEY: Democracy in action.

MATTHEWS: It`s great.


MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about turnout, because these special elections -- I saw the polls. You saw the polls. You can`t poll a special election, because there`s so few of them. There`s no history. How are going to you get people out to break their focus on the Bruins and the Cup and all this stuff and focus on this thing, and why should they?

MARKEY: Well, over the last four days, we have made 400 door-knocks -- I mean, three million door-knocks or telephone calls to voters in Massachusetts.

You`re right. People in Massachusetts are not used to having an election in a 97-degree day in the end of June. So, it`s all about get-out-the-vote. I have been crisscrossing the state. We have been making the personal contacts.

We have been trying to separate the two candidates on the issue of gun control, on a woman`s right to choose, on Wall Street reform, all the way down the line. We think we have done that. And we`re ready to get our vote out on Election Day tomorrow.

MATTHEWS: Congressman Markey, thank you.

MARKEY: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much.

MARKEY: Thank you so much.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Congressman Markey.


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