Mass shootings renew calls for stricter gun laws

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 9, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: We have tremendous support for really common sense, sensible, important background checks. Leadership is doing a really good job. Mitch McConnell, Kevin, Nancy -- I spoke with Nancy Pelosi yesterday, I spoke with Chuck Schumer yesterday. There's a lot of goodwill about this issue.


JOHN ROBERTS, HOST: In the wake of two mass shootings last weekend, President Trump saying that there is a lot of good will, there is a lot of political support for meaningful background checks. But is there really? Let's bring in our panel, Marc Thiessen, fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Charles Lane, opinion writer for "The Washington Post," and FOX News contributor Steve Hayes. Marc, start us off tonight. Is this just talk, or is there really an appetite for something to happen?

MARC THIESSEN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: I don't think there's an appetite for background checks. The legislation, the bipartisan legislation that's in the Senate is the Manchin-Toomey bill, and that failed in a Democratic controlled Senate. There is not a lot of support for background checks.

And also keep this in mind, the Democrats, any time there's a mass shooting, the Democrats have the exact same playbook. Number one, blame the Republicans. They met with, they had the Gifford shooting in 2011, so it predates Trump, call Republicans racist if race is involved, and then use it, politicize the attack and then use it to push gun control legislation that would have not stopped the attack. There's no evidence that background checks would have had anything to do -- would have done anything to stop either of these attacks.

There are things that could be done if there was an interest in not politicizing this but getting something done like red flag laws, where there's bipartisan support where you do something to make sure that people, you create some mechanisms that people who are reporting to the police as having some mental problems or look like they might be causing harm to themselves or others, that you could temporarily take away their guns and have a hearing in front of a judge. That's something that could have actually stopped one of these attacks. But that's not what the interest is. And they want to politicize this and push gun control.

BAIER: The NRA said very much the same thing that you did about background checks, but President Trump believes he can't get them onboard. Listen here.


TRUMP: I really believe that the NRA, I've spoken to them numerous times, they're really good people. I really think they're going to get theirs done. I think in the end, Wayne and the NRA will either be there or maybe will be a little bit more neutral.


ROBERTS: Charles, the president does have a good relationship with the NRA. But in the past, he has said very similar things, and then it's just gone away.

CHARLES LANE, OPINION WRITER, "WASHINGTON POST": I think a lot depends on what happens over the next three or four weeks. It's the August recess, a lot of members of the Senate and the House are going to be going home and listening to people talk about this. Everything Marc certainly said describes what happened in the past. But this was an extraordinary event. This is two mass shoot things the course of a single weekend, at least one carried out by, at least for political motives, we don't know about the other one. And that changes the dynamic.

The mere fact the president and the Senate majority leader who have been hostile to any gun control legislation feel they have to talk about maybe doing it shows how much the situation is --

ROBERTS: But Steve Hayes, much the same was said about Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, that was supposed to be the tipping point, that was the mass casually event that was going to change people's minds. And it went away. And then we had Las Vegas, and we had all these other shootings, and still nothing happens.

STEVE HAYES, CONTRIBUTOR: Right, which is exactly the reason I think Marc is right. I don't think it's like anything is going to happen.

I will say, the one outside chance that something will happen would be if Donald Trump himself decides that he wants to get involved. We've seen that Donald Trump can move Republicans in Congress on virtually anything. They're afraid of him. If Donald Trump decides that he wants to make background checks and whatever is on his list on the list that the White House is now considering real priorities, he can make them priorities for the Republican Party. He's moved the Republican Party on a variety of other issues if he wanted to do it. The question will be, does he want to do it.

ROBERTS: The president brought up as he was leaving the White House again today the notion that the political rhetoric that has gotten to levels that I don't think we've seen before, the president continues to be accused of supporting white supremacy, continues to be accused of being a racist. Here's what the president said about it this morning.


TRUMP: I don't think it helps. First of all, I don't like it when they do it, because I am not any of those things. I think it's a disgrace. And I think it shows how desperate the Democrats are.


ROBERTS: He said it hurts Democrats. And then he brought up the idea of racism as well, and said you play the race card because you have got no other cards left. Doesn't, in fact, Marc, hurt Democrats?

THIESSEN: I think he's right. First of all, again, this predates Donald Trump. In 2000 the NAACP ran millions of dollars of racist ads against George W. Bush comparing him to white supremacists involved in the lynching of James Byrd. In 2012, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee said that Mitt Romney was a racist because of welfare reform policies. They said the same thing about John McCain. To Democrats, it's not just Donald Trump that's a racist, all Republicans are racist. It's like the boy who cried wolf. When you say it enough times, then all of a sudden you actually -- no one believes you.

ROBERTS: Charles, 30 seconds left before we got to save time for winners and losers. But calling the president a white supremacist and a racist, are you not by association suggesting that anybody who would support him subscribes to the same ideology. And could that backfire on Democrats?

LANE: Sometimes the wolf is a wolf. And I do think you run that risk of alienating a lot of his voters, but I don't think that's what this is about. I think what this is about now is winning votes in the primary and selling yourself to the Democratic base, and you'll worry about the other thing later on.

HAYES: There's polling that that shows that 51 percent of Americans think that Donald Trump is a racist, but Democrats are always taking it one step further. No, he's not just a racist, he's a white supremacist. They would be smarter to confine their arguments to the place where the polls support them.

ROBERTS: It's Friday, so winners and losers. Marc?

THIESSEN: My loser is Joe Biden, who gave a shameful speech comparing President Trump to George Wallace. And this is not, again, not the first he's done it. He called Mitt Romney, he said when Mitt Romney is elected he's going to put you all back in chains. So again, all Republicans, not just Trump, are racist.

My winner are the heroes of the 1944 Warsaw uprising. I just came back from Poland where I attended the 75th anniversary ceremonies with my 91- year-old mother who was one of the insurgents who fought in the Warsaw uprising. And I took my kids so they could see what heroism and sacrifice really looks like.

ROBERTS: President Trump will be going there Labor Day weekend. Charles?

LANE: My winner is the police chief of Dayton, Ohio, Richard Biehl, who not only supervised a force who performed heroically in that terrible crisis, but he also looked at the cameras and spoke truth to the American people about the fact that these weapons should not be on the street. He called them fundamentally problematic in a civilian environment.

And my loser, the American public's sense of safety. We have people running in panic from motorcycle backfires in Times Square.

HAYES: My winner quickly -- or my loser, excuse me, is the House Republicans. They saw Will Hurd retire this past week. I think there are a lot of retirements to come, including potentially some big names. My winner, Colonel Roy Knight Junior, Captain Bryan Knight. Captain Bryan Knight is a pilot for Southwest Airlines. He flew his father back, was lost after the Vietnam War, last time he saw his father he was five years old at Dallas Love Field in 1967. It's a fantastic video that has gone viral and one of the few viral videos that deserve to have gone viral.

ROBERTS: What a warming story. Thanks, panel.

When we come back, "Notable Quotables." Stay with us.


ROBERTS: And finally tonight, "Notable Quotables."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have the numbers. I know that people have died, and I know that there are a number of people injured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got shots fired, we got multiple people down. We're going to need multiple medics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight of them are in stable condition. Three of them are in critical condition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We received in total through the Miami Valley system 16 victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On a day that would have been a normal day for someone to leisurely go shopping, turned into one of the most deadly days in the history of Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To have that level of weaponry in a civilian environment unregulated is problematic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want anybody harassed or targeted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they will be because you put their names in public.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daddy, he's not a criminal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If anybody has a chicken salad today, it is likely that your chicken may have been processed by these families.

BIDEN: This president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, D-N.Y., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has embolded white supremacists across this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the president a white supremacist?


TRUMP: Racist, racist, racist, that's all they use to anybody.

BIDEN: We cherish truth over fact.

Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.

TRUMP: Joe Biden has truly lost his fastball, that I can tell you.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TX: Everyone in the political arena needs to just ratchet down the rhetoric.


ROBERTS: Yes, like that's going to happen. Thanks for watching “Special Report.”

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