This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) shares his opinion of appropriate gun control measures in advance of President Obama's proposal.
"We want to make sure that people don't commit crimes," Rep. Forbes says. "We need to do the analysis but we need to make sure that we're not doing stuff in there that are going to jeopardize people's rights."
Transcript available after the jump.
RUSH TRANSCRIPT – Soledad O'Brien interview with Rep. Randy Forbes on "Starting Point"
So, we were running through what we believe will be in the president's proposals that he will announce later today. Of that list of things, assault weapons ban, high capacity magazine ban, universal background checks, more funding for mental health programs. What - pick three things that you would say, yes, as a Congress person this can make a change in what is happening in this country now with gun violence - what three things would you support there?
FORBES: Soledad, I don't think we can say that. And reason is, I sit on the Judiciary Committee and I sit on the subcommittee that will hear the proposals. We're looking forward to hearing what the president has.
But you may have the proposals, we do not have the proposals yet and we still have this concept that we do the trials before we do the verdicts. And here, we do the hearings and gather the facts and get the evidence. So, what we're looking forward to get the president's proposals and hearing the facts on both sides of the case, so that we can make the analysis.
O'BRIEN: Yes. But people in D.C., they leak like sieves, the proposals, no one has given them to us either. But we've been able to craft them from what people who've been on a lot of these conversations have to say. But hypothetically speaking, of the things I've laid out, hypothetically, if he were, in fact, to lay those out, what things - even without the list - what would you be comfortable in supporting that would make a change that helps confront this big issue of gun violence in this country, name the thing that you support? FORBES: OK. If I can name the things that I would support, first of all, where I got my information from and just in the last few weeks, I've talked to sheriffs and police chiefs.
Let me tell some things that they have that aren't the hot topics that you guys are looking at now, and maybe even the president is looking at. For example, I had one sheriff in the western part of the country yesterday told me that the big problem they'll have is they'll have juvenile sometimes that have criminal offenses with firearms that won't even get a severe penalty until the fifth time they've used them. We need to deal with that and we need to look at that problem.
Second thing is I had a police chief in the southern part of the country that told me yesterday - look, sometime our prosecutors aren't prosecuting cases. They had a situation, a videotape and a car wash where someone had a mass killing there. The prosecutor said he didn't have enough evidence. Federal government had to come in under (INAUDIBLE) and get a conviction, that's what we need to do.
And then the third big thing, Soledad, that's not in all of this, is right now, if you really look at the spike up in violent activity and much of it with guns, it's in our gang activity that is taking place. A police chief told me just the other day we've got some of our gangs here that are doing most of this violence and they haven't even talked about that.
Those are the kind of things we're looking forward to actually having police chiefs, actually having sheriffs come and telling us what's the real problems, what do we need to get our hands around and we'll be dealing with that.
O'BRIEN: I think those are really, really smart, and all those things that you listed, I think they do sound like huge problems.
But, as you know, with the gang activity that the sheriffs and police officers were talking about, one of the big problems are the straw purchasers, right? And the reason they're able to do that because we don't have universal background checks and we don't have an ability –
FORBES: Soledad, let me just point this out to you. That's exactly what we need to be hearing in our committees because what the police chiefs will tell you is that most of these gang members aren't buying these things –
O'BRIEN: No, their girlfriends are - their girlfriends who don't have records are, right? And the girlfriends –
FORBES: Or they're going to steal the guns.
O'BRIEN: Right. I agree.
FORBES: Most of them are not in the business of buying them legitimately.
One of the things we need to make sure of, Soledad, a lot of people hate guns and are fearful of guns and I appreciate that. But what we don't want to do is say these things sound good and feel good but they're really not going to get at the problem. That's what we'll be looking at –
O'BRIEN: Walk me through - so the universal background check, how could you be against that? I don't hate guns, I'm not any more afraid of them sort of more than anything else. I think smart people who are well-educated in how to use them, can be - can use guns very effectively and efficiently. And I trust police and sheriffs when they tell me about their concerns, so I'm not one of those people you list.
So, to me, a universal background check sounds very pragmatic. I would like to know who is selling weapons, if they have a felony conviction I would like to understand who's got weapons. Why - how can be a bad thing?
FORBES: You can take it further to that, Soledad. Well, first of all, I didn't say it was, because we haven't had the hearings to see the proposals. But the other thing that you didn't even mention was we want to make sure that people with mental illnesses don't have them.
O'BRIEN: Completely agree.
FORBES: We want to make sure that people don't commit crimes. So, you're exactly right. We need to do the analysis but we need to make sure that we're not doing stuff in there that are going to jeopardize people's rights.
Let me give you a perfect example. We had the same kind of argument that took place in Virginia about 15 years ago. We had a bill that came on because we wanted to take guns off of school property. You and I both agree that that should happen.
However, the bill would have said that if you or I borrowed somebody's car, we took our child to school to drop them off in the parking lot and there was a gun in the glove compartment that we didn't know about, we'd have been guilty of a felony.
So, Soledad, in that particular situation, don't we want to exclude people that didn't even know that guns existed, some people in the debate said - oh, my gosh, you just want guns on school property and you don't care about kids.
And sometime, the devils are in the details, and they're the details that we'll get in the hearings when we get with people that are dealing with the matters come and testify, Soledad. And we will be doing that.
This is the president of the United States. He deserves to have a hearing on his proposals, and we want to make sure we give him a fair and balanced hearing. And at the end, we'll make sure we make decisions on the evidence that we accumulated, not that the president comes in and tells us before we documented it.