Rep. Himes talks universal background checks, gun safety

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 23, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, "YOUR WORLD" HOST: And to John's point here, that echoes a possession that the Florida governor, Rick Scott, is taking to prohibit the types of weapons that were used in that attack last week to those under 21, that you would have to be at least 21 to buy such weapons. They would include Airstrikes 15 and other semiautomatic and related weapons.

That is something that the NRA strictly opposes.

Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut on all of these developments.

Congressman, thank you for coming.

What do you think of that? The president didn't mention this at CPAC, Congressman, but he is talking about raising the age for those who want to purchase those firearms to 21.


Well, look, let me start by giving credit where credit is due. I have been a pretty tough critic of this president for a year or so, but I give him a lot of credit for listening, as he did the other day, to some pretty horrible stories, and coming up with ideas that I think we should be talking about.

I get a little more excited about his discussion of a universal background check. That's something of course that has 97 percent or so of the American public behind it. Today, you don't get a background check if you make a private sale, if you buy at a gun show. That's an easy win that, would it solve all of the problems? Of course it wouldn't.

But just doing that, consistent with Second Amendment rights, I do suspect we could take some steps to keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.

CAVUTO: Now, part of that is also to make it more difficult, if not impossible, for those with mental issues to ever get their hands on gun.

The problem is relaying that or finding a uniform way to have that in records that would be available to gun store owners and the like. The argument for that is there are laws on the book for this sort of thing. But they're sporadically enforced. What do you think of that?

HIMES: Yes. No, that's right.

We do have a mechanism. The federal government of course cannot compel states to report people who have been adjudicated with mental issues. But there are a lot states that do. There's a lot of states that don't.

Look, I do that we should provide incentives to states to contribute to that database where a gun store, a gun dealer can check to see if somebody has been ruled a danger to themselves or to others.

I would even -- I just happen to have come from a meeting with a bunch of law enforcement guys here in Fairfield, Connecticut. And we should also talk about that moment when somebody has a temporary retraining order issued on them because they have been deemed to be violent towards their wife or whatever it may be.

I understand this gets into touchy constitutional issues. But there's moments when it would be good for the police on a temporary basis to say hey, for some period of time here, we have got to take the weapons out of the house, as long as there is some question about whether somebody is prone to be violent.

CAVUTO: Congressman, you have studied this issue far more closely than I.

But the one pattern I do see emerging in this latest is something that has happened time and time again, the failure of agencies to essentially talk to one another, whether it's police relaying the 39 times they went to Nikolas Cruz's home for a variety of reasons, that officials didn't either know or that wasn't telegraphed to more people.

The FBI botching this January 5 call by someone who was very concerned about the school shooter, that he might pull something like this off. And then it got lost.

We have seen it on Boston on Patriots' Day after the slip-up, not being communicated about the Tsarnaev brothers by the FBI to local police. We saw it after 9/11. I can go back further and further.

Is there anything afoot that you know of when we are talking about preventing this sort of thing to really get this under control? Because that is a consistent pattern.


No, it's a great question, Neil. And, as you point out, it's a tough one. Right? It sounds like the case in this individual in Florida, I mean, the tips and the threats and the brandishing of firearms, again, that's the kind of situation where I would love to see local law enforcement be able to say hey, for some limited period of time here, there's a very explosive situation, for some limited period of time, perhaps pursuant to a restraining order or whatever it would be, local law enforcement ought to have the right on a temporary basis to remove somebody's weapons.

But it's hard, because you made reference to the Boston case. Look, the FBI check out the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston. And as these policemen that I was just talking to up in Fairfield told me, if somebody has not actually committed a crime or if there's not actually threatening to commit a crime, there's not a lot that law enforcement in that instance can do.

So, yes, I think we can make some progress there. But it's a tough one.

CAVUTO: All right, Congressman, thank you very, very much. We appreciate it.

HIMES: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right.


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