September 11, 2019


WASHINGTON - In case you missed it, the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) appeared on MSNBC Live with Katy Tur to call on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on commonsense gun safety reform.


KATY TUR: Congressman since Mitch McConnell said this is up to the president, let's listen to what the president said about this a moment ago.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We are working very, very hard together all of us. We're seeing if we can come up with something that's acceptable to everybody. We're looking at background checks. […] So we are now in meetings. The meetings are going to go on tonight. I'm going to speak with them again tomorrow and I think progress is being made.

TUR: "We're looking at background checks. We're having meetings." Who's we?

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: I have no idea. The president needs to put behind talking the talk. It's time to walk the walk. Ten thousand or so Americans have lost their lives this year as a result of gun violence. The House has acted in February. Passed universal criminal background check legislation. We need to close the gun show loophole, close the internet loophole, close the private transaction loophole.

The overwhelming majority of the American people including Republicans, Independents and gun owners support universal criminal background check legislation. The Senate Republicans need to act. The president needs to put his weight behind this legislation so we can move forward.


TUR: Let me ask you this. Who's leading who here? Is it Mitch McConnell leading the president or is the president leading Mitch McConnell? 

JEFFRIES: This may be an example of a diversionary tactic where one side tries to put the blame on the other because neither of them have the courage to act. That's shameful.

TUR: You're talking about the gun lobby and defeating those who are backed by the gun lobby. Is that what's at issue here? The NRA pouring money into politics or is it those single-issue voters who will vote against gun control as their only priority?

JEFFRIES: Reasonable gun safety measures is something that the American people, we believe, widely support. This is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue as it relates to the well-being of the American people.


TUR: Why is the Senate not acting? The voters want it and their constituents want it. Why do you think Mitch McConnell is not acting?

JEFFRIES: I think that's a question that probably is most appropriately directed at Moscow Mitch. But I have a theory, which is that in part, many Senate Republicans are behaving as if they are wholly owned subsidiaries of the gun lobby. That's quite unfortunate. The NRA clearly has indicated that nothing is acceptable to them as it relates to reasonable gun safety measures even though the Supreme Court in the Heller decision, in an opinion authored by Justice Scalia of all people, has made clear that pursuant to the Constitution, reasonable gun safety measures are lawful.


TUR: What about Manchin-Toomey? Does that have a chance?

JEFFRIES: The House and the Senate are part of a bicameral legislative process and so at the end of the day, I think we recognize that we should try to find common ground with the other side of the Capitol, but we do need a partner and right now because Mitch McConnell is obstructing, missing in action or hiding in the closet afraid of the NRA - take your choice - there is no partner.