Donald Trump's gun control politics spark controversy

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 15, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


HILLARY CLINTON, PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: A ban on Muslims would not have stopped this attack. Neither would a wall. I don't know how one builds a wall to keep the Internet out.


CLINTON: So not one of Donald Trump's reckless ideas would have saved a single life in Orlando.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESUMPTIVE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Ask the gays what they think and what they do in not only Saudi Arabia, in many of these countries with the gay community, just ask. And then you tell me, who is your friend, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. You tell me.


BAIER: One issue, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton going back at it as some new polls came out today. Washington Post poll about favorability. There you can see Clinton 43 favorable/unfavorable, and then Trump hitting a new high in the unfavorables at this poll at 70 percent. Another poll out, a national poll out, Bloomberg poll has Clinton up 12. There you see 37 for Trump and libertarian Gary Johnson at nine percent. The RCP average, the Real Clear Politics average has Clinton up about 4.2.

OK, let's bring in our panel: Jonah Goldberg, senior editor of National Review, Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and Tucker Carlson, host of "Fox & Friends Weekend." OK, Jonah, it seems like there's something new every day. We have a long general election to go. Thoughts?

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: What is there to say? It is every single day you try to get a catch to the raging controversy, and then Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton pulls the chair out from under you and you have to deal with something else.

BAIER: Let's start with the NRA and Trump's suggestion that he I going to negotiate with the NRA to actually move forward negotiation to possibly take terrorist watch list people off being able to buy a gun.

GOLDBERG: If we go by the normal rules of politics, he's created a hot mess for himself with this. The NRA, I think rightly, I changed my position on the terror watch list thing. I think it's a bad idea.

BAIER: Bad idea how?

GOLDBERG: That you can't have an extrajudicial process, the way the terror watch lists are run, it is just simply a bad idea to have the government just simply deciding unilaterally without a review process who is a terrorist, potential terrorist, and who is not. Even James Comey, the head of the FBI, doesn't like the idea because he says it would interfere with the ability to track these people. I think there's a reason why both the ACLU and the NRA are against it.

That said, this is a problem with the narrow point with NRA voters, because he made this promise to them that he's going to be supportive and then he's violating it when there's a hot controversy. But also for people like me and other conservatives who say that, you know, his promises that he's going to toe the line on these conservative issues, whenever we run into one of these situations, he makes it very clear that his promises have an expiration date. And by sort of basically saying I'll going to adopt to the NRA about adopting essentially the Democrats' position, it underlines his larger argument about how can you trust me to stick to all these things and all these promises I've made.

BAIER: Here's what the NRA released, quote, "We are happy to meet with Donald Trump. The NRA's position on this issue has not changed. The NRA believes that terrorists should not be able to purchase or possess firearms, period. Anyone on the terror watch list who tries to buy a gun should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the sale delayed while the investigation is ongoing. At the same time, due process protection should be put in place that allows law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watch list to be removed." Mara?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, it certainly seems like you could work out a compromise on this. If the NRA doesn't want people on the watch list to be able to buy a gun and all the Democrats in the Senate don't want it, either, you would think you could work out those due process issues and come to some kind of agreement.

To me the bigger, more interesting thing is what Jonah is talking about, which is Donald Trump who has been a wrecking ball going through every conservative principle that he can come across is now arguing the Democrats' position on this. He tried to do some clever jiu-jitsu on gay rights, trying to separate gay people from Muslims and from Hillary Clinton. But I'm wondering what he's going to do next.

BAIER: Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: There are two problems with it. The political problem is Trump has kept the conversation on guns. That's not the lesson of the Orlando shooting. A guy pledges allegiance to ISIS and kills 49 people, how is that the NRA's fault? So by wading into this, we're talking about it as if this is a problem that could be solved with gun control. No serious social scientist believes that. There's zero evidence for that.

The second problem is the one that Mara alluded to, which is due process. You can't solve the problem except with due process. Do we really want to live in a country where the government can take away one of your constitutional rights without telling you because it doesn't like your opinions? We have a whole process for this called the judicial system, the criminal justice system. We've had it for 225 years. Why are we giving it up?

And by the way, if are you not considered safe enough to be allowed to fly or go hunting, why are you living next door to me? Why do we -- I'm serious, if we believe someone is a terrorist, why don't we indict them?

BAIER: As you know there are many different perceptions about Orlando and the causes and the motives. I want to take a minute and read The New York Times main editorial today in which it says "While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred towards gays and lesbians. Hate crimes don't happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified, where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically this is the state of American politics driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit not extinguish."

Continuing, "As the funerals are held for those who perished on Sunday, lawmakers who have actively championed discriminatory laws and policies and those who have quietly enabled them with votes should force themselves to read the obituaries and look at the photos. The 49 people killed in Orlando were victims of a terrorist attack but they also need to be remembered as casualties of a society where hate has deep roots."

GOLDBERG: I'm reluctant to say this, but that might be the single dumbest editorial in the history of The New York Times. It's like a pinata. You can hit it from any angle and get some reward.

First of all, the guy was a registered Democrat. He swore allegiance to ISIS. And somehow the Republican opposition to gay marriage that is somehow associated with this? I know for a fact that a lot of the founders of the Nazi Party were gays. Should we revisit the issue of Nazism based on the fact they were homosexuals? It's ludicrous and just like with the gun stuff that Tucker was talking about. It's one of these examples of how from the top down, from Barack Obama to a lot of the mainstream media, they don't want to actually talk about this for what it is, which is a terrorist attack. A guy motivated and inspired by radical Islamic terrorism. Instead they want to move the conversation back to comfortable topics like gay rights and gun control. And it's just a giant con.

BAIER: Mara, there is the whole back and forth about radical Islam and what the president said yesterday, whether you say it or don't say it. There's no Islam in this editorial. There's one word, "terrorist," at the very bottom. That's it.

LIASSON: Some people have called Donald Trump a cartoon caricature of the left's version of what a Republican politician is. This is the cartoon caricature of what people would say about a liberal editorial page. However, there is no doubt that terrorism, anti-gay hatred, and easy access to assault weapons were all part of what happened. To say that it's only one thing is ridiculous.

CARLSON: It's a very specific species of anti-gay hate. It's the Islamic species, that's exactly right.


BAIER: Perhaps we should point out it's not clear that he wasn't gay.

CARLSON: That's exactly right. This is kind of the interesting proposition, which if you have a problem with gay marriage, you inspired this attack. No. Again, this is not an American form of homophobia. This is a Middle Eastern form. So why is it America's fault? What you're see is very recognizable if you have talked to liberals or listened to the president, this is America's fault. No, actually it's not.

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