tv MSNBC Live With Tamron Hall MSNBC January 5, 2016 8:00am-9:01am PST
the other breaking story, president obama is about to announce new executive actions involving the purchase of guns. you see a number of people gathering now in the east room. this will according to the administration narrow the so-called gun show loophole which expanding background checks. now the president will also move to tighten enforcement of the nation's existing gun laws. the president insisting yesterday that he has the authority to act unilaterally. >> these are not only recommendations that are well within my legal authority and the executive branch, but they're also ones that the overwhelming majority of the american people, including gun owners, support and believe in. this is not going to solve every violent crime in this country. it is not going to prevent every mass shooting. it is not going to keep every gun out of the hands of a
criminal. it will potentially save lives in. country. >> obviously this increases the debate around guns as it is -- as it relates to the gop debate and the candidates certainly now all chiming in. the reaction swift from republicans, from the house speaker paul ryan writing, this is a dangerous level of executive overreach and the country will not stand for it. senator ted cruz obviously running for president yesterday called the president's actions illegal and unconstitutional. senator marco rubio said the president has waged war on the constitution. and the gop front-runner donald trump called it an assault on the second amendment. all are vowing to reverse the president's executive actions if elected. but this interesting comment from the national rifle association, nra says that is the proposal we've spent seven years putting together. they're not really doing anything. nbc news senior white house correspondent chris jansing joins us.
chris, that's not just the question at this hour from the nra, for many who looked over what the president plans to announce today. the question is the mthe mass s we've seen in the last year during his administration, many of those guns were purchased legally. would this change anything? >> the president made this very clear yesterday when he was in the oval office with the people who brought him these recommendations that these are pretty narrow. they're not going to stop all mass shootings. they're not going to stop gun violence. what they do hope they will do is make it harder and gun advocacy groups that i've talked to said they think this is a step that they hope will move them further into the direction. you talked about what the big proposal is which is essentially narrowing the gun loophole. how that works is that if you're not a licensed gun dealer with be if you're somebody for example who just sells a few guns on the side, you don't have to be licensed. if you're a private seller, you don't have to ask for background check from the buyer. they want to expand what that
definition is so more people would have to be licensed to sell and as a result more people would have to get more background checks. we tend to think because it is called this gun show loophole that that's what we're talking about. but talking to senior administration officials yesterday, their bigger concern now is sale of guns online. there are a lot of websites online where you can simply go on, people list their guns, again they're private sellers. there can be a private transaction where there doesn't have to be a background check. so they know that what the president is announcing has some limitations but the level of frustration was very, very high that congress was not going to take action so they feel like they've gone as far as they possibly can. >> we're going to talk with captain mark kelly, part of course of the coalition that spoke with the president, gave these recommendations. captain kelly, the husband of congresswoman gabby giffords, we know the details of that shooting that nearly took her
life. but back to the enforcement of these changes, that would be the responsibility of the atf, an agency that's been described as cash strapped, like so many others. so the enforcement of this, turning this from words on a paper to actual action, what is the administration saying about that? >> they need to add new employees, that's part of this plan. they are down from where they were five years ago in terms of the number of atf agents. they also plan to add more folks at the fbi. those are the ones who do the background checks. and they also want $500 million for mental health. some of these are going to require congressional action so it is one thing to say we want to do this, it is another thing to have the money for it and it is one of the things the president is going to put forward in his next budget and you wi he'll also talk about it in the state of the union in addition to a town hall this thursday. you're right, none of this means anything unless there's enforcement behind. that will mean new hires and some of that requires funding that has to go through congress. >> several of the gop candidates
are calling this -- presidential candidates calling it unconstitutional. when you look at the polling out regarding even nra members whether asked about background checks, many in large numbers support the idea of expanded background collection. >> in some cases, 8 in 10 republicans support expanded background checks. there were polls done recently in early states, in iowa and new hampshire, even republicans supported background checks. but certainly there was a tremendous level of frustration after what happened in newtown and they really thought that at the very least they would be able to push through broad background checks. they weren't able to do it. so if you'll remember, the president then issued 23 executive orders, talked a lot about trying to get new legislation through congress, groups that had sprung up as a result of newtown were pushing for it as well. it really was after this fall shooting at the community college in oregon that the president looked at the number of gun deaths -- by the way,
children under 12 are killed -- one child is killed every other day in this country since newtown. that's a pretty sobering statistic. so after what happened in oregon, he tasked some of his senior officials and said, look, what else can we do that we didn't do after newtown? this is the result of that. >> chris, thank you very much. let's talk about the legal challenges the president could face. to discuss more of that, national law journal reporter mike saks, thank you. the president saying this is within his legal authority. this could also still end up though before the high court. >> it may. by the time it would end up before the high court, there could very well be a different president who could reverse all these executive actions, abandon them on day one and there would be no case left over, prosecution would be dropped. but first you have to question whether these actions would result in a lawsuit at all.
the expanding the background checks, the federal firearm licensees, to be more than those currently covered under the law as of today. that might actually not garner a lawsuit immediately because it is a prosecutorial discretion issue. what would happen is there would have to be a criminal case put against someone who is trying to evade the new expanded federal firearm licensing, and then that person would have to say, well, this new rule, this new prosecution, is kind of big. i didn't know exactly that i'd be caught under this. after all, the obama administration in making this decision only said that i could sell a couple guns and some other factors and i'd be involved in business of dealing firearms. well, that sounds too vague to prosecute me and that violates my due process rights. so that's one possible way these could get to court. another are some of the rule making that's being made now. these are some rules that have been proposed the last couple years. that's by the social security administration, if you're found incompetent to handle your own
finances or balance your own ledger, then they could report you to a firearm license for background collection and you might be put on the background checklist and not be able to get a gun. does that have a significant nexus to your second amendment rights, not being able to held competent by the social security administration? or the department of health & human services is saying that they will now encourage and allow doctors to report those they find mentally unstable to the federal background check licensing and does that also deprive someone of due process rights. these are the types of lawsuits that would come forward out of these new rules. >> to talk more about that, mike, thank you. we have now with us captain mark kelly to discuss the gun violence in this country as well as legal challenges ahead. he's standing by with us, he will attend the president's announcement later this hour in the east room. captain kelly, thank you so much for your time. >> you're welcome. >> let's first talk about what we were discussing here, the expansion of the definition of someone who engages in the
business of selling firearms. this seems to be the headline. we've talked so much -- for some period of time of these so-called gun loopholes. but the core of the question this morning is would any of these proposed changes, this executive action by the president, had changed the incident that involved your wife, the children in newtown, the poo emin aurora, the list goes on and on. would this have had an imact on any of those crimes? >> when you talk about a huge list it is hard to say any one thing will affect any of those incidents on the list. but we do know in states that have stronger background check laws we have lower gun violence. in states with stronger lawyers, we have 46% less women are murdered by their intimate partners with guns. we have 48% less police officers that die from gun violence. so there is a clear connection. but any single event being mitigated by one executive action, that's really hard to say. i will say though in the case of
what happened with gab geby, he was a guy who was clearly mentally ill and one of the executives actions president obama will announce today has to do with expanded funding for mental health coverage to get people treatment. >> you and i know as well the nra pushes back significantly on most of the proposals. however, it is also the health care industry that's questioned how the administration, how any gun control laws would affect your privacy, hipaa laws that are in place to protect individuals so that they are not stigmatized as a result of an extensive background check or some of the things that many want to be brought up in the purchase of a firearm. >> yeah, those are complicated questions. i mean how hipaa affects somebody's mentally ill and their availability to buy a gun. but i think most of us agree that when somebody's dangerously mentally ill, there should be some mechanism in place to stop them from getting their hands on a firearm. right now that's the background check system.
unfortunately, we have about 40% we think it is about 40% of gun sales happen without a background check. what the president is doing today is going to address that big loophole and it is going to require that more people get a background check before buying a gun and hopefully those that are mentally ill and convicted felons have a more difficult time accessing firearms. >> speaking of the access of firearms, so much of it now done online, including high-powered ammunition which has been a focus of a lawsuit following the aurora massacre. does this impact this new world where so many are able to access a firearm without meeting face to face? >> yeah. there are a lot of gun sales that are done online without background checks. individuals and websites that are selling hundreds, if not thousands of guns a year without first checking the person's background. that doesn't make any sense. most americans up to 90% of all americans agree you should get a background check before buying a
gun. for so many years the system allowed this big giant loophole to exist and the common sense steps that the president is taking today is going to do -- i think it does a pretty good job in addressing this problem. >> you have on the other side though people who are running for the nomination on the gop side who have already pledged, without hearing from the president today, that they would reverse any executive action. so this battle, if you will, that involved you and so many others would seem to be for naught if -- >> i think some of these folks were rejecting these before they even saw what they were which doesn't make a lot of sense from somebody like me, i try to make decisions based on data and evidence. but i think they should take a close look at them an see if they were to be elected president, do they really want to go back to a system that makes it very easy for felons and domestic abusers and those who are mentally ill to get easy
access to firearms? i don't think a president would want to do that. so i'm quite skeptical. let's look at other things that are in these executives orders. we're going to allow the national instant criminal background check system to operate 24 hours a day to make background checks more officials. there will be more agents involved in that process. there are things that i think any future president would have a very hard time logically thinking through, then deciding they want to undo these common sense solutions. >> the nra released a statement in part saying this is the proposal they spent seven years putting together? they're not really doing anything." end of quote with be that's what the nra is saying. but you also have others who believe certainly the president is within his reach, win his legal authority but are questioning why now when these measures could have been taken last year at other points in his term. certainly right after newtown even. >> well, think they could.
right after newtown there seemed to be a pretty strong effort in the united states senate and in congress to pass a law that would close some of the background check loopholes. it was filibustered in the senate so it didn't happen then. it's been a process. this is something we've been working on our office, organization that gabby and i run, have been working on this with the white house for about a year now, as well as others. so it -- these things do take time. >> i know you will join the president in the east room, captain kelly thank you so much for your time. greatly appreciate it. i want to update you on that other breaking news we've been following as mentioned at the top of the hour. we're told at least one u.s. service member and two others wounded in two separate incidents in southern afghanistan. nbc news chief global correspondent bill kne neely is standing by in london with more on details of what played out there. bill? >> yes, tamron, good afternoon. one american killed, two
wounded. there was a counterterrorism operation involving we believe u.s. and afghan special forces. those forces came under fire, there were american casualties. a u.s. medevac helicopter was then called in. it's not clear if that helicopter was then struck by fire, but the taliban certainly fired rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire at that helicopter. we got they statements so far. one from the pentagon simply confirming what i've told you. three casualties, one dead, two injured. a spokesman for u.s. forces in afghanistan saying we can confirm a u.s. helicopter has landed in marjah -- and the word is important -- and is experiencing mechanical problems. nbc news has also spoken to the taliban in southern afghanistan, in helmand. the taliban said that a chinook helicopter dropped around 70 to 80 u.s. and afghan forces for nighttime raids.
we fired rockets. we hit the helicopter when it was about to fly in the air, a commander told nbc news. he said the helicopter caught fire and there were many, many casualties. now the taliban statement should be taken with a pinch of salt because they often exaggerate what they've done and they certainly exaggerate casualties. but i myself spent a long time in helmand with british forces. helicopters are very vulnerable up to about a kilometer and it is a typical taliban tactic to attack helicopters when they are at the point of landing or about to take off. i myself was in a helicopter that was attacked in 2006 and again in 2009. that is when they believe they can inflict most casualties. helmand is a very violent and a very volatile province. british troops were charged with being there for many years. u.s. forces took over, and then
pulled out leaving helmand to afghan forces. they have really struggled there to the extent that one of the key areas in helmand, sangin, almost fell to the taliban just a couple of weeks ago. this incidents happened in marjah which is not far off, but really any of those places are infested with taliban marches. american special forces will be involved in all of those areas but at the minute we don't have any update on casualties except to say the pentagon is confirming one american dead and two wounded. >> bill neely live in our london bureau, thank you very much. we'll continue to follow breaking news as we get more information from the defense department. coming up, live coverage of the president's executive actions on gun control happening later in this hour. about 15 minutes away from that announcement. but first, what's wrong with this video on donald trump's first television ad?
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tuesday 2016 coverage with just 27 days away from the iowa caucuses, candidates on both sides are picking up the pace making 60 stops in less than 48 hours. that's across iowa and new hampshire. today hillary clinton wraps up her two-day trip through iowa with three campaign events. her husband, bill clinton, will travel to the hawkeye state later this week after stumping for hillary clinton yesterday in new hampshire. now the final sprint in those two states comes as a new nbc news survey monkey online poll finds hillary clinton leading
bernie sanders nationally, 53% to 36%. on the republican side, the 2016 race, jeb bush is doubling down on new hampshire embarking on a three-day trip through that state starting today. the former governor inist sistss morning that donald trump's campaign will implode once voting starts in less than a month. >> he's a buddy of the clintons. is he the only person on stage that's given money to bill clinton and hillary clinton's campaign? yeah. and their foundation? he's not going to win iowa. if he doesn't win iowa, then he's going to have hard time here. if he doesn't within here, then the whole thing collapses. >> the new numbers from that nbc news survey/monkey online poll suggests trump's support is stronger than bush. msnbc political correspondent and host steve kornacki is here. i don't think that's a big headline his support is stronger than bush. we've seen that consistently. but it is the difference in the national poll and what we're seeing in the state by state
poll which is always the critical thing to watch. >> well, we've spent so much of 2015 talking about 2016, we're finally in 2016. this is what we have here, this nbc news online poll. this is the first poll we've had of the year 2016 conducted in 2016. here you have donald trump basically 2-1 ahead. this is nationally. ted cruz in second place. rubio the only other one in double digits. obviously ben carson's really falling off. remember just a month or two ago he was challenging trump for first place, now he's back down there in single digits. a different story in iowa where cruz is in first place in those polls. but in new hampshire trump continues to lead. a couple of things we can draw your attention to to explain these numbers. first is the intensity of support for donald trump versus the rest of these candidates. asked the question, how certain are you you're going to stick with this choice. more than half of trump's voters say they are with him to the end. 51% say they're absolutely certain. you look at somebody like marco
rubio, that kind of loyalty. only half that number for marco rubio. a lot more intensity for donald trump. then there is this -- evangelical christians, we talk about them all the time in the republican primary. they are half of the republican universe these days. nationally there you see donald trump continues to lead ted cruz by double digits when it comes to evangelicals. but like you say, early states there are so important with this because in iowa, where ted cruz is campaigning, is spending money, is really working the evangelical vote at a grassroots level, he's pulled ahead of donald trump. the cruz campaign's hope obviously is if they can win in iowa a month from now, maybe that national number of evangelicals will flip in their direction, then maybe they'll come close to the lead in the national poll. the other thing to point out quickly, a development here on the republican side, donald trump made a lot of noise this week with his first television ad campaign. it was revealed yesterday afternoon that in this ad, which talks about one of the issues it mentioned is immigration, footage was used at a border.
turns out it was not the u.s.-mexico border which the ad seems to suggest. temperatures the actual footage from morocco. what's interesting here is the trump campaign when this first came to light yesterday afternoon, they didn't miss a beat. they said this was absolutely intentional. we're trying to see what the border could be like if we keep the current policies. well, this morning trump's campaign lawyer was on cnn. when asked about this he said something very different. take a listen to that. >> the point is that they're coming through. yeah, i'm going to have a conversation with whoever made the mistake. there is no doubt about that. but the truth is people are pouring through our borders which are open. >> tamron, what's interesting there is we have a really not heard anybody in the trump campaign -- these last six months -- ever said we made a mistake. that was not their line yesterday when this first came to light but there's the lawyer earlier today saying it was a mistake. >> it is the lawyer, not the candidate. we have yet to hear him say there has been a mistake on
anything. thank you very much, steve. the antigovernment activists who are occupying a federal building in oregon plan to speak out this afternoon. day four of this protest. and we are moments away from president obama outlining his new purn sh to expand gun background collection in this country. we'll have more details on that and our first read team with the analysis. we'll be right back. ♪ every auto insurance policy has a number. but not every insurance company understands the life behind it. ♪ those who have served our nation have earned the very best service in return. ♪ usaa. we know what it means to serve. get an auto insurance quote and see why 92% of our members plan to stay for life. ugh! heartburn! no one burns on my watch! try alka-seltzer heartburn reliefchews. they work fast and don't taste chalky.
so i drink boost® to get the nutrition that i'm missing. boost complete nutritional drink has 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d to support strong bones and 10 grams of protein to help maintain muscle. all with a great taste. i don't plan on slowing down any time soon. stay strong. stay active with boost®. welcome back. as mentioned, we are following breaking news out of washington at the white house specifically, the east room where the president is set to outline expanded background checks for guns in this country, the purchase of guns under executive action. brian williams is standing by for our coverage on this event. already it is playing out on the campaign trail. we've heard from a number of gop candidates saying if they are elected they would, in their words, reverse these actions. the president, nevertheless, moving forward. >> that's right. our attention is now turning to the east room of the white
house. as tamron indicated as well, criticism coming already from most of the gop candidates for office. we're going to hear the president today announce his own executive actions on tightening controls, controls on buying and owni ini guns in this country. the president has complained forcefully he too often is forced to address the topic in the aftermath of a mass shooting in this country, and it is saying something that the president will be introduced this morning by the father of one of the sandy hook connecticut victims. peter alexander standing by the a the white house for us. peter, the president has been very candid on this subject, very angry when addressing the media after one of these mass shootings. >> yeah. so many of those occasions where the president has had to speak before america giving eulogies, talking about the grave loss of life of so many young
individuals, individuals from san bernardino to newtown. of course it was after that community college shooting more recently in october where the president asked his team to better examine what more they could do. remember, they already pursued 23 executive actions following congress' inaction after the newtown shooting. that's why we are here today. the president himself tweeting last night, brian, that the gun lobby in his words can hold congress hostage but they can't hold the president hostage. that's why he's hoping with these new efforts to better, among other things, shrink the gun show loophole. we tend to refer to it as the gun show loophole because that's what it more broadly refers to. specifically white house officials, senior administration officials, tell us they're heavily focused on those online merchants. so many gun sales take place over the internet these days, and in effect they happen without any background checks taking place because some of the sellers are not licensed right
now. their hope right now is to become more effective and efficient in terms of their enforcement of the present laws. we recognize that an executive order cannot change the law but they hope to better clarify it in a way to cast a wider net of capturing more of these sellers as individuals who need to be licensed so they as a result will have to go forward with background checks for individuals they are trying to sell to. >> peter alexander on a cold morning outside the white house, peter, thank. across town we go to our justice correspondent, pete williams. pete, one down a review of what we're going to hear from the president and, candidly, how much he can expect to get out of this. >> well, these are by, i think everybody's likes, modest changes. in fact what the administration says here i think with some justification is that the thing that's got the most attention which is trying to increase the number of people who sell guns getting federal firearms licenses which would in turn require them to do background
checks for people who buy guns from them, that the proposal here is simply an expansion or summary, if you will, not an expansion, a summary of existing law and how the courts have interpreted it. the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms has issued now this pub pu publication, do i need a license to buy and sell firearms. what it says is you do need a license if you sell guns basically to make money. it says here are some things you should ask yourself. do you accept credit cards. do you have a website. do you have a store. do you buy guns intending to resell them. as opposed to someone who says, for example, i have got a bunch of guns. i want to sell them because i need the money to support my child's education or my father died and left me all these guns and i don't want them, i want to sell them. in that case the government says you don't need a license. but the hope here is that by basically telling everyone what the law is, it will encourage
more people to get firearms licenses. it will put on notice those people who are selling guns illegally and the president again to understore the modesty here says he wants congress to approve money for 200 more agents and inspectors so that the atf can go out and enforce those laws. but that's modest, too. the atf in contrast to other federal agencies has virtually the same manpower it had in 1972. hiring 200 more people barely keeps up with attrition. there are two other rule makings, one started two years ago, one of them started last year. so there's not a lot that's new here. it is just an emphasis on -- it is kind of taking existing things, putting them together and saying, look, this is what we are doing, we need to do a better job of what we are legally entitled to do. >> pete williams from our washington bureau, thanks.
as be as pete was talking you might have seen an ovation from former congresswoman gabby giffords. we are about to talk to senator richard blumenthal, democrat from the state of connecticut. connecticut was the home of sandy hook elementary. senator, what did you tell your constituents after. sandy hook, the incident that made so many americans say, well, this will -- we must see some change after this and nothing changed? >> what i told my constituents, brian, is that we would change the law, that we would keep faith with those loved ones who lost 20 beautiful children, sixth grade educators. the president also in my meeting with him yesterday was obviously deeply moved and affected by his contact with those tremendously
courageous and strong individuals. but these measures absolutely right, pete williams is right -- are about enforcing existing law more effectively, not changing the law. that still must be done because the president's measures are only a partial solution. more people will be required to get licenses. more background checks will take place. but the background checks still will not cover all of those sales that they must do and so they're still a need for legislation. i will tell my constituents that i'm going to continue working and fighting to make america safer by changing those laws. >> senator, why is it, do you think, that gun sales usually spike after every presidential speech on this topic. >> there may be a fear that guns will be taken away. that fear is totallyish rational and unfounded. i deeply respect the second
amendment. it is the law of the land. none of the proposed legislative changes would take away in he guns. it is an irrational and unfounded fear that maybe sales will be restricted. there's nothing in the president's measures that will restrict sales to law abiding people. that is in the second amendment and the courts, by the way, brian, have repeatedly upheld that certain categories of people can be prohibited from buying guns -- criminals, drug addicts, domestic abusers, and certain categories of gun sellers can be required to be licensed and do background checks. and that's what the president's doing here. our opponents have told us repeatedly why not just enforce existing laws more effectively? that is exactly what the president is doing here. so i would predict with some degree of confidence as a former federal prosecutor, and state attorney general, that challenges to this action will be rejected by the courts. >> from the democratic side of the aisle, senator richard
blumenthal, state of connecticut, thank you very much, senator. we want to bring in a republican from texas, congressman blake farenthal. congressman, anything wrong with what the senator just said? >> i agree we need to enforce existing laws. the problem of course is the president picking and chooses which laws he enforces and where is he going to find the money for these additional agents. the devil is in the detail on these things. >> congressman, the rallying cry to my point about why gun sales normally spike after every presidential -- all the presidential remarks on this topic, the rallying cry is, they're coming for our guns. do you believe that anyone is coming for guns lawfully owned? >> i think you need to be ever vigilant. the second amendment, if you look at the historical context of the second amendment was put in right because of your natural
right to bear arms and there is the natural fear of an all-powerful government. it is a normal thing. the second amendment is important to our foundation as a country. >> do you believe that fear is well founded though? >> i don't see in the immediate future people knocking on your door to come take your guns but you never can tell what's going to happen in the future. >> well, it's a heated topic. congressman, thank you very much for being with us. we hate to cut your time short, but the president's introduction is starting again from one of the parents who lost a child at sandy hook elementary. >> in the three years since those 26 precious lives were lost at that school, far too many more lives have been lost to gun tragedies in this country. far too many people right now who are hearing these words are gree
grieving the loss of a loved one to gun violence. as a nation we have to do better. we are better. we're better than this. in april of 2013 i had the honor of introducing president obama in the rose garden. unfortunately, that was to announce that a bill that had been proposed to close the loophole in the federal background check system for firearm sales had been blocked. by members of congress -- some members of congress. but president obama delivered an address that day that was palpably charged with genuine passion and commitment. the president made a promise to not give up. i remember standing there with my family and vice president biden listening to our president speak, and our feelings of
despair were replaced with feelings of hope. and i remember thinking who is going to help him with this? that's a tall order. so since then i've come to know and respect and learn from many amazing individuals and organizations who are doing good, smart work in this space. and many of you are right here, right now. many of the folks in the gun violence prevention coalition, including sandy hook promise, have had numerous meetings with vice president biden and president obama and their top advisors to address this issue. but we can't do it alone. and the president can't do it alone. the thing is, every gun related death is preventable. and we need your help. we need everybody engaged in this.
president obama made a promise as an elected official and a promise as a father that he would do everything in his power to protect our nation's children to make our communities safer and curb the loss of life to gun violence in america. so today we celebrate another example of how president obama and vice president biden continue to keep that promise. it is with such great honor that i introduce to you the president of the united states, barack obama, and vice president joe biden.
we pmet, the time we spent together, and the conversation we had about daniel. and that changed me that day. and my hope earnestly has been that it would change the country. five years ago this week, a sitting member of congress and 18 others were shot at at a supermarket in tucson, arizona. it wasn't the first time i had to talk to the nation in response to a mass shooting, nor would it be the last. ft. hood. binghamton. auro aurora. oak creek. newtown. the navy yard. santa barbara. charleston.
san bernardino. too many. thanks to a great pled cal team and the love of her husband, mark, my dear friend and colleague, gabby giffords, survived. she's here with us today with her wonderful mom. it is thanks to a great medical team her wonderful husband, mark, who, by the way, the last time i met with mark -- this is just a small aside -- you may know, mark's twin brother is in outer space.
he came to the office and i said, how often are you talking to him? he says well i usually talk to him every day but the call was coming in right before the meeting so i think i may have not answered his call. which made me feel kind of bad. that's a long distance call. so i told him, if his brother, scott, is calling today, that he should take it. turn the ringer on. i was there with gabby when she was still in the hospital and we didn't think necessarily at that point that she was going to survive. and that visit right before
memori memorial, about an hour later gabby first opened her eyes. i remember talking to mom about that. but i know the pain that she and her family have endured these past five years, and the rehabilitation and the work and the effort to recover from shattering injuries. and then i think of all the americans who aren't as fortunate. every single year more than 30,000 americans have their lives cut short by guns. 30,000. suicides, domestic violence,
gang shootouts, accidents. hundreds of thousands of americans have lost brothers and siste sisters. or buried their own children. many have had to learn to live with a disability or learn to live without the love of their li life. a number of those people are here today. they can tell you some stories. in this room right here, there are a lot of stories. there is a lot of heartache. there is a lot of resilience, there's a lot of strength, but there is also a lot of pain. and this is just a small sample.
the united states of america is not the only country on earth with violent or dangerous people. we are not inherently more prone to violence. but we are the only advanced country on earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. it doesn't happen in other advanced countries. it is not even close. and as i've said before, somehow we become numb to it and we start thinking that this is norm al. and instead of thinking about
how to solve the problem, this has become one of our most polarized partisan to solve the has become one of our most polarized partisan debates. despite the fact that there's a general consensus in america about what needs to be done. that's part of the reason why on thursday i'm going to hold a town hall meeting in virginia on gun violence, because my goal here is to bring good people on both sides of this situation together for an open discussion. i'm not on the ballot again. i'm not looking to score some points. i think we can disagree without impugning other people's motives or without being disagreeable. we don't need to be talking past one another. but we do have to feel a sense of urgency about it.
in dr. king's words, we need to feel the fierce urgency of now. because people are dying. and the constant excuses for inaction no longer do. no longer suffice. that's why we're here today. not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to try to prevent the next one. [ applause ] to prove that the vast majority of americans, even if our voices
aren't always the loudest or most extreme, care enough about a little boy like daniel to come together and take common sense steps to save lives and protect more of our children. i want to be absolutely clear at the start. i've said this over and over again. this also becomes routine. there's a ritual about this whole thing that i have to do. i believe in the second amendment. it's there written on the paper. it guarantees a right to bear arms. no matter how many times people try to twist my words around, i taught constitutional law. i know a little about this. i get it.
but i also believe that we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the second amendment. i mean, think about it. we all believe in the first amendment, the guarantee of free speech, but we accept that you can't yell "fire" in a theater. we understand there's some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people. we cherish our right to privacy but we accept that you have to go through metal detectors before being allowed to board a plane. it's not because people like doing that. but we understand that that's part of the price of living in a civilized society.
and what's often ignored in this debate is that a majority of gun owners actually agree. a majority of gun owners agree that we can respect the second amendment while keeping an irresponsible law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale. today, background checks are required at gun stores. if a father wants to teach his daughter how to hunt, he can walk into a gun store, get a background check, purchase his weapon safely and responsibly. this is not seen as an infringement on the second amendment. contrary to the claims of what some gun rights proponents have suggested, this hasn't been the first step in some slippery slope to mass confiscation.
contrary to claims of some presidential candidates apparently before this meeting, this is not a plot to take away everybody's guns. you pass a background check, you purchase a firearm. the problem is some gun sellers have been operating under a different set of rules. a violent felon can buy the exact same weapon over the internet with no background check, no questions asked. a recent study found that about one in 30 people looking to buy guns on one website had criminal records. one out of 30 had criminal record. we're talking about individuals convicted of serious crimes, aggravated assault, domestic violence, robbery, illegal gun possession. people with lengthy criminal histories buying deadly weapons all too easily. and this was just one website
within the span of a few months. so we have created a system in which dangerous people are allowed to play by a different set of rules than a responsible gun owner who buys his or her gun the right way and subjects themselves to a background check. that doesn't make sense. everybody should have to abide by the same rules. most americans and gun owners agree. and that's what we tried to change three years ago, after 26 americans, including 20 children, were murdered at sandy hook elementary. two united states senators, joe manchin, a democrat from west virginia and pat toomey, a republican from pennsylvania, both gun owners, both strong defenders of our second amendment rights, both with "a"
grades from the nra -- that's hard to get -- worked together in good faith consulting with folks like our vice president who has been a champion on this for a long time, to write a common sense compromise bill that would have required virtually everyone who buys a gun to get a background check. that was it. pretty common sense stuff. 90% of americans supported that idea. 90% of democrats in the senate voted for that idea. but it failed because 90% of republicans in the senate voted against that idea. how did this become such a partisan issue? republican president george w. bush once said i believe in background checks at gun shows or anywhere to make sure that guns don't get into the hands of people that shouldn't have them.
senator john mccain introduced a bipartisan measure to address the gun show loophole, saying we need this amendment because criminals and terrorists have exploited and are exploiting this very obvious loophole in our gun safety laws. even the nra used to support expanded background checks. and by the way, most of its members still do. most republican voters still do. how did we get here? how did we get to the place where people think requiring a comprehensive background check means taking away people's guns? each time this comes up, we are fed the excuse that common sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre or the one before that, or the one before that.
so why bother trying? i reject that thinking. [ applause ] we know we can't stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. but maybe we can try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence. some of you may recall at the same time that sandy hook happened, a disturbed person in china took a knife and tried to kill with a knife a bunch of children in china. but most of them survived.
because he didn't have access to a powerful weapon. we maybe can't save everybody, but we can save some. just as we don't prevent all traffic accidents but we take steps to try to reduce traffic accidents. as ronald reagan once said, if mandatory background checks could save more lives, it would be well worth making it the law of the land. the bill before congress three years ago met that test. unfortunately, too many senators failed theirs. [ applause ] in fact, we know that background checks make a difference. after connecticut passed a law requiring