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January 17th, 2013
09:48 AM ET

Sen. Kaine: Obama's gun orders 'reasonable,' Sen. Rand Paul's use of 'nullify' is a 'code word'

This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) weighs in President Obama's executive orders on gun control, arguing that the president's actions make sense.

"I think the president laid out very reasonable, you know, ideas for ways to reduce gun violence, and while some of them are about guns, and we'll talk about those, he also focused on the need for more mental health services and better school security, those are important," Sen. Kaine says. "But on the guns, I do think the background record checks component has enormous public support. And we ought to be able to do that. I think we should do it in a very easy way."

"I do think the ban on combat weapons and the ban on supersized magazines will be tougher, but again, they are very reasonable. They are supported by the American public. They are consistent with the second amendment. There's no reason not to do this," Kaine adds.

Sen. Kaine also responds to Sen. Rand Paul's statement that he would try to "nullify" the President’s orders.

"Nullification is a code word," Sen. Kaine says. When pressed by O'Brien, Kaine says “it’s a states right argument that gets used in times of great controversy. The President is acting by executive power that is legally conferred on him. And as you pointed out, you went over these executive orders. They’re basic, common sense things.”

"The notion that we’re going to nullify a presidential action when the President is acting pursuant to law, you know, that’s just kind of this anti-government rhetoric that I’m surprised to hear somebody in government using,” he says.

Filed under: Gun control • Gun violence
January 16th, 2013
11:54 AM ET

Rep. Duckworth: Let's stay calm on gun control, but 'you don't need an AR-15 to go to target practice'

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) weighs in on possible gun control measures to lower gun violence.

Filed under: Gun control • Gun violence
January 16th, 2013
10:45 AM ET

Rep. Forbes on possible gun control measures: We need to make sure we're not jeopardizing people's rights

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.


Filed under: Gun control • Gun violence
January 15th, 2013
11:23 AM ET

Rep. Walden on possible gun control measures: 'Certainly, we don't want firearms in the hands of people who are criminally insane'

Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) weighs in on what should be done to enforce gun control and reduce gun violence.

Filed under: Gun control • Gun violence
January 15th, 2013
09:04 AM ET

Rep. Thompson: 'We need to prioritize gun control,' lists actions Obama administration could take immediately to curb gun violence


(CNN) – Vice President Joe Biden's package of proposals on gun control – collected after meetings with various constituencies, including gun rights groups, retailers, and video game manufacturers – combines both "administrative actions" that the White House can take unilaterally and measures that will be presented to lawmakers in Congress, according to Democratic lawmakers who met with Biden this week.

The collection of measures includes 19 steps President Barack Obama can take himself using executive action, according to Rep. Jackie Speier, a member of the Democratic gun violence task force that met with Biden Monday.

"He didn't go into all of them," Speier said on CNN's "Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin." "Certainly they will be considered by the president."

Rep. Mike Thompson, who chaired the Democratic gun task force that met with Biden, detailed some of what the vice president's package contains on Tuesday's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien" on CNN.

"We met with the vice president yesterday, and the vice president said we need a comprehensive package to put an end or help put an end to the gun violence," Thompson said. "Congress is going to be important. It's going to be a cooperative effort with the two branches of government."

The "administrative actions" which Thompson said Obama could begin pursuing immediately include appointing a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has been without a permanent chief for six years. The acting director, B. Todd Jones, also serves as the U.S. attorney in Minnesota.

Thompson said Obama could also demand federal agencies provide data for background checks that are supposed to accompany gun sales, ensuring the information included in the checks is as "comprehensive and complete as possible."

Obama has not ruled out issuing executive orders on some gun control measures to enforce laws already on the books, such as bolstering the way gun sales are tracked. At a news conference Monday, Obama reiterated his desire for more robust background checks for gun buyers, keeping high capacity magazines away from criminals, and a ban on assault weapons.

READ MORE: Details of Biden gun package emerge

Filed under: Gun control • Gun violence
January 11th, 2013
10:10 AM ET

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL): 'The tragedy is not doing anything' about gun violence

Vice President Joe Biden and his federal task force met with gun advocacy groups, like the NRA, Thursday to discuss new regulations that could reduce gun violence in the United States. While the NRA has said the meeting was an attack on the second amendment, Biden announced that a “surprising recurrence of suggestions that we have (is) universal background checks.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democratic congresswoman from Illinois and a member of the House Democratic Caucus’ Gun Prevention Task Force, joins “Starting Point” on Friday to discuss the vice president's meeting.

“There’s no question that universal background checks would be very, very important,” the congresswoman said. “You know 40% of the guns that are purchased are purchased without a background check – through private dealers, through gun shows. If they had to get a background check, we could eliminate some of those purchases.”

The congresswoman added that reducing the number of large capacity ammunition clips or assault magazines would also help reduce the level of violence, noting that nothing is off the table, including mental health reforms and taking a closer look at violence in movies and video games.

"There are many solutions. The tragedy is not doing anything,” she says. “And that’s what it seems the NRA is about."

Filed under: Gun control
January 10th, 2013
11:16 AM ET

Actor Jay Thomas: 'I don't understand why some of the wealthiest actors still have to shoot guns in every movie'

Vice President Biden and his gun control task force are set to meet in Washington with gun owners, the NRA, and other groups that advocate for gun rights.

The task force is also meeting with representatives from the video game and entertainment industries, including former Senator Chuck Dodd, the chair of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Actor/comedian Jay Thomas and Rep. Joseph Crowley join Starting Point this morning to discuss violence in the entertainment industry and to weigh in on whether or not there is a connection between violence in real life and what plays out on screen.

"I don't understand why some of the wealthiest actors in Hollywood still have to shoot guns in every movie they do," Thomas says. "They're just absolutely afraid to try and do a movie and sell a story.They don't make any money selling my 18 and 22-year-old sons a story line. So they start shooting. They want them to feel as though they're watching a video game, and it's safe."

January 10th, 2013
11:00 AM ET

Sen. Blumenthal: Need to enforce existing gun laws, 'give them teeth'

This week, Sen. Richard Blumenthal introduced the "Ammunition Background Check Act of 2013," which would require background checks before anyone can purchase ammunition. It would also require sellers to keep track of ammunition sales and inventory, as well as alert law enforcement if someone buys over one thousand rounds within a five day period.

The legislation also includes a ban on Teflon-coated bullets and ammunition designed to explode on contact.

Sen. Blumenthal sits down with Soledad on Starting Point today to discuss Washington's gun control efforts and to explain his goal for the bill.

"The legislation I'm proposing very simply would enforce the existing ban," Blumenthal explains. "There already is a ban against certain categories of people purchasing ammunition. We need to make the law real, give it teeth and that's why we need those background checks, but also reporting for people who purchase more than 1,000 rounds and the ban on Teflon-tipped bullets, which pierce armor worn by our police and others."

January 9th, 2013
11:02 AM ET

Sen. Johnson: 'I don't think Washington is capable of solving gun violence problem'

The NRA is set to sit down with Vice President Biden's task force on gun violence tomorrow after issuing a statement yesterday that they are "sending a Rep. to hear what they have to say."

Sen. Ron Johnson weighs in on President Obama's new gun control initiatives on Starting Point this morning.

"I'm a little concerned they will try and rush this thing through, try and pass legislation out of Washington, D.C. within a month, and I don't think Washington is capable of solving the problem," Johnson explains. "When you take a look at bans, they simply didn't work. We have gun-free school zones, and that's where people go to kill children. So I wish there was some magic wand you could wave, prevent things from happening, but these massacres are perpetrated by sick, demented, and evil individuals."

Johnson also weighs in on the national debt problem and Obama's assertion that he won't negotiate over raising the debt ceiling, saying, "any time the president comes to Congress and asks for additional debt benefit on the backs of our children and grandchildren, we should have the debate. It should go on and on and on until we resolve the issues."

January 9th, 2013
10:49 AM ET

Virginia Tech victim Colin Goddard says an overwhelming majority of Americans want commonsense changes to our gun policy

The NRA has announced it will participate in a meeting this week with Vice President Joe Biden's gun violence task force. The Vice President will also hold meetings with victims groups, gun safety organizations and representatives of the entertainment and video game industries. One person who will be attending the meetings is Virginia Tech survivor Colin Goddard. Goddard who was shot four times during the rampage is now the assistant director of federal legislation for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He joins “Starting Point” this morning to weigh in on the upcoming gun violence meetings.

Goddard says his “job is to represent the voice of the overwhelming majority of Americans… that want some comprehensive, commonsense changes to our gun policy.” He adds that the focus on gun legislation moving forward should not just be on “the last major shooting but…the 32 Americans…who are murdered with guns every single day.”

Morning panelist, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) disagrees. Johnson says he is not sure where Goddard sees evidence regarding the majority of Americans wanting reform to gun policy. Johnson adds the people of Wisconsin who he represents and others “really want to protect gun rights and they realize it’s a second amendment right.”

Goddard says, “There are common ground solutions that respect the second amendment but also make it more difficult for dangerous people to get their hand on a gun in the first place…like a background check.” He says background checks should be conducted on everyone mainly because “40% of gun sales every year in this country go unchecked – that’s just bad policy. That doesn’t stop a law abiding citizen from owning a gun, they’ll pass that background check every time but somebody with a history of mental illness, somebody with a domestic violence restraining order, somebody with a felony record – they need to get checked otherwise you’ll never know about that.”

Goddard who still has three bullets logged in his body agrees the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut was the “tipping point for a lot of people.” He says phones in his Washington office are constantly ringing “off the hook.” He adds, “our activists out in the field across the country are getting so many new members saying ‘I just can’t keep watching these things and not do something about it.’ I think there were multiple factors that played into this but I’ve seen overwhelming support for something to be done.” The 2008 Virginia Tech graduate concludes by saying the meetings on Capitol Hill are very encouraging and urges all Americans to “please keep this up – we’re going to get this done.”

Filed under: Gun control • Gun violence • Guns • Politics
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