Congressman Langevin Applauds Obama Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence
Discusses What His Story Means in Current Debate
Congressman Jim Langevin appeared on MSNBC this morning to applaud President Obama's proposals to reduce gun violence. Langevin called on Speaker John Boehner to allow the House to vote on gun safety legislation and explained that his own gun accident while training to be a police officer shows the answer cannot just be more guns.
Chris Jansing (host): I also want to bring in Congressman James Langevin, who is a Democrat from Rhode Island serving on the House Democrats Gun Violence Task Force and he has a very personal connection as he was accidentally shot as a 16 year old in a police station resulting in permanent injury. It's good to see you Congressman. Good morning.
Jim Langevin: Good morning.
CJ: You have heard from a lot of people, I'm sure, but one, and I think one that a lot of moderate Democrats might be compelled to listen to are some police officials. Let me play for you what one police chief said yesterday.
Police Chief: It opens a host of security issues. It is very difficult for even a highly trained police officer to engage an active shooter.
CJ: He's talking about this proposal to either have armed guards in schools, or even armed teachers. This is not part of the President's proposal. I'm wondering what your reaction is to what the President has proposed.
JL: Well, first of all, I support his proposal. I think he has come up with some common sense aspects of response to how we keep our communities and our kids safe from gun violence. So the issue of certainly of any type of, whether it's gun violence or gun related issues always gets my attention. As you mentioned in the beginning part of your program, I was a police cadet at 16 years old in the police locker room. You would think one of the most safest environments that you could be in and yet an accident happened and I became paralyzed.
Now it just shows that you can't prevent every gun related incident. But we can make sure that we take common sense steps to keep our kids safe and the answer isn't always more guns, especially having more guns around our kids. So when I hear things like we're going to arm teachers, have security officers in schools, it does concern me and by the way, there's a difference between, of course, trained police officers - I'd be much more open to that idea. We do have trained police officers, resource officers in schools and they certainly have a role to play, but it isn't necessarily about having more guns in our schools that are going to keep our kids safe.
What we should do is a thing like background checks, making sure that weapons don't get in the wrong hands, criminals or people that have been ruled to be - have mental health issues that would preclude them from having a weapon because they're a danger either to themselves or to others.
CJ: What path do you see forward? I mean, Speaker John Boehner has said the Senate needs to act first on this gun legislation, but Senator Harry Reid apparently is not going to take the lead. He's going to leave that to others. He's concerned about some of the Senators from more moderate states, more rural states, so how does this get moved forward?
JL: Well, I did hear Senator Harry Reid's comments that he was going to only bring up things that he felt could get through the House. I certainly hope that Senator Harry Reid would bring legislation to the floor of the Senate, but also on the House side, I hope Speaker Boehner will allow some of these gun measures to come to the floor. In the past he has said he'd only bring things that - to the floor - that had a majority of his majority, but just recently, we did see Speaker Boehner bring the fiscal cliff bill to the floor that didn't necessarily have a majority of his Republicans' support. He also brought - just this week - the Sandy relief aid bill to the floor that didn't have the majority of the Republicans, but it did have bipartisan majority support. And both the fiscal cliff issue and the Sandy issue passed with bipartisan support.
So if Speaker Boehner brings some of these gun measures that the President has proposed, bringing them to the floor, including the background checks, perhaps even this issue of banning these high capacity magazines that hold 30 to 100 rounds of ammunition in them, that are weapons of war quite frankly and don't have any more business being on our streets than an Army tank. I believe that this would pass with bipartisan support and I would encourage Speaker Boehner to do that.
CJ: You're pushing for Members of Congress, who each get to invite someone to the State of the Union, to in fact invite a victim of gun violence. Do you think it is these kinds of personal stories and personal connections that will make a difference ultimately?
JL: Well I absolutely think the personal connections, personal aspects of this will make a clear difference. I give the President high marks for making this a centerpiece so early on of his new Administration that he's going to push for some kind of responsible gun control legislation. We need to keep the momentum going in this.
I along with Carolyn McCarthy and Keith Ellison have organized an effort to invite members from our communities who have been the victims of gun violence or have lost a family member to gun violence. We each get one ticket to invite a guest to the State of the Union message and I'm hoping that we have a strong presence of victims or family members who have been victims of gun violence in the gallery that night when the President delivers his State of the Union message and he talks about responsible gun control. I respect the Second Amendment and I respect people's right to bear arms, but we have to have responsible gun laws that keep our communities and our kids safe.
CJ: Congressman James Langevin, thank you so much for coming on the program.
JL: Thank you.
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