Jim Himes - Refusing to Remain Silent on Gun Control

June 20, 2016 - Jim Himes and Jack Garratt 06/20/2016 Views: 8,012

After speaking out against gun violence in the House of Representatives, Jim Himes advises the public on what they can do to curb the political influence of the NRA. (6:22)

Now, in the wakeof the Orlando shooting,

each house of congresshad its own way

of responding to the tragedy.

Uh, in the senate today,

they debated four differentgun control measures.

Now, we're taping this showwhile they're voting,

so technically,before the vote comes in.

So while you know thatthese measures didn't pass,

-we don't know that yet.-(laughter)

Uh, but last week,in the House of Representatives,

there was no such debate.

But they did follow theirpost-mass shooting tradition

of observinga moment of silence.

Well, some of them did.

Silence.That is how the leadership

of the most powerful countryin the world will respond

to this week's massacreof its citizens.

Silence. Not me. Not anymore.

I will no longer stand hereabsorbing the faux concern,

contrived gravity,and tepid smugness

of a house complicitin the weekly bloodshed.

Joining me now to discuss thisis Connecticut congressman,

-Jim Himes, everybody!-(cheering, applause)

-Hi, Trevor.-Thank you so much.

Thank you for being here.Thank you for being here.

Thank you so muchfor being here.

Really powerful words.

You've seen mass shootingafter mass shooting.

You've had to observethese moments of silence

over and over again.

What took youto your breaking point?

You know, it was Sunday,and as it happened,

I bumped into one of the fathersof a child

that we lost in Sandy Hook.

And Connecticut's a small place;we know the families,

we know, uh, the teachers.

And I bumped into Mark Barden--

who's here with us tonight,actually,

who lost his son at Sandy Hook--and I imagined telling him,

you know, Mark, this is...

I've probably donea dozen moments of silence.

Here you got 435 people who,with about three hours of work,

could pass a bunch of billsthat are supported

by 80%, 90%of the American public,

doing whatwe are designed to do,

but we're not gonna do that.Instead, what we're gonna do is

we're gonnastop talking about sports

and stop talking about dinner

and stop talkingabout Donald Trump

for eight seconds--we're gonna be quiet.

We're gonna put on our seriousface, and we're gonna be quiet.

How do you feel about that?And I realized that

those moments of silencedon't honor anybody.

-Yeah. -They are emblematicof congressional negligence

on this issue.

-(applause)-You're looking at, um...

You're looking at a situationwhere, as you said,

80%, 90% of the public isbehind a lot of these measures.

How do you consolidate thatbetween congress and the public?

I mean, this... shouldn'tcongress be trying to enact,

you know, what the people want?

Aren't you supposedto be governing the people?

Isn't that what the functionof the system should be?

I don't understand it.How do people out there...

You know, what do you sayto someone who goes,

"This is crazy-- 90% of us..."

Or are the ten percentjust really, really convincing?

-Is that what it is? -You know,you have what's called

an "intensity problem,"which is that

the very small number of peoplewho are willing,

not even to enter intothe conversation, you know,

who, whatever you say--you know, you can point out

the fact that, you know,if you really believe

that the only wayto stop a bad guy with a gun

is a good guy with a gun,well, we got a lot of good guys

with a gun in this countryand we have a huge problem

that no other country has.

You know, they're out therejust saying... spreading fear.

And the fear isthat the president's coming

to take away your guns-- that'sthe Wayne LaPierre special.

Or the fear is that, you know,it's a dangerous world

-and you better arm yourself.-But how do they translate

that fear into congress, though?I mean, I understand,

as a layman on the streeteveryone can fall for this.

But in congress,the lawmakers themselves,

-how is this applying to you?-Right. Right.

Well, you know,particularly, look,

there's a partisan divide here--not perfectly,

but there's a partisan divide,and an awful lot of my good,

uh, friendson the other side of the aisle

think that if they enter intoa common-sensical conversation

-about things that shouldbe easy to talk about, -Yes.

um, they will get primary'd

by somebodywho levels that fear at them.

-In other words...-Does the NRA have that power?

Like, can the NRA genuinely say,"Hey, Mr. Republican,

"we don't like whatyou're saying about guns.

We're going to get someoneto fill your seat."

-Do they have that power? -Well,it's not that they can say that,

they do say that, and of course,they said that this week

when they knew thatthese bills would come up.

And in a disjointedand complicated political time--

-and it is that right now---Yes.

there's a lot of fearamongst my colleagues, too.

So again, the NRA is-ispartly powerful for their money,

but they're mainly powerfulbecause for years now

they have been spreading fearthat causes Americans to say,

well, we're not evengonna have that conversation.

And of course, that translates

into theirrepresentative government.

How do the peopleout there do it?

Because I-I... after Orlando,the one thing I saw,

on Twitter, you know, everyone,"our thoughts and prayers,"

and what do we do,how do we... how do we help?

You know, we wantto donate blood, we want to...

-People want to do something.-Yeah.

People want to bea part of the change,

but a lot of it feelslike people don't know

-how to be a part of the change.-Yeah.

So how can the public help you?

How can the public help congressto get its job done?

We need more advocacy, and weneed it in those swing states.

We talk a lotabout swing states.

Look, you know, all seven of usin the state of Connecticut--

the five members of congressand the two senators--

we're on board.But in those swing states--

states like Ohio,Pennsylvania, North Carolina--

people need to stand up and sayof their elected officials,

"I care so much about thisthat my vote is at stake."

They need to make that case.And then it's up to all of us

to stop the insane debatethat the NRA wants us to have.

-Yeah. -They want to say: Areyou pro-gun are you anti-gun?

Well, what about me? I supportSecond Amendment rights.

I actually likerecreational shooting.

But you know what?I believe that we ought

to probably test peopleand make sure

there's as much licensingand regulation around a gun

as there isaround an automobile.

-(applause, whooping, whistling)-Yeah. Well, I mean...

It is, uh...

it's always shocking to methat...

that somehow the conversationhas been convoluted

to a point where peoplehave been made to believe

that licensing somehow infringeson their rights.

And really, that'sjust responsible ownership

of these weapons.

We've got a big Bill of Rights.with all kinds of rights,

and not a single one of themis absolute.

You know,the one we talk about most

is the First Amendment--yes, we have a right

to free speech,but there's all kinds

-of restrictions on that:no screaming "fire" -Yeah.

in a crowded theater, et cetera.

So that's the kind of discussionwe need to have,

and we should have it withpeople who say, wait a second,

we have a huge problemin this country--

30,000 gun deaths.

Think about that. In two years,we lose as many people

to gun deaths as we lostin the entire course

of the Vietnam War.Two years.

-Wow.-We lose that many people.

And we should havethis conversation,

and people really need to pushtheir elected representatives.

Well, I think with your voice,with Twitter,

with what's happening out there,people are getting behind it,

and, uh, pushingtheir representatives

-Yeah. -is the most important.But thank you for coming.

-Thank you, Trevor.-Really appreciate it.

Congressman Jim Himes, everyone.We'll be right back.

(cheering, applause)