Alex Witt | March 30, 2013
>>> a threat from north korea at the west, in a state of war against south korea and an opportunity for concrete legislation on gun control may be slipping away. joining me now, david sis leanny of rhode island . you are on the foreign affairs committee . explain from your understanding how capable north korea is of carrying out their most extreme threats and how seriously the u.s. is taking that from the north.
>> well, thank you again for having me on. everyone recognizes this is an untested leader, very young and inexperienced who has not served in the military. so he's really trying to demonstrate his strength with the military. but obviously, it's a nuclear power and it's something we have to take seriously. i think the threat is obviously more serious to south korea in the region but united states has a responsibility of making sure our strategic interests are protected and national security of our country are protected and the united states is monitoring this closely. we don't know really what this leader of capable of doing. the danger is that a misstep or miscalculation or skirmish can result in something much more serious.
>> as andrea mitchell pointed out, the fact that north korea mains this sealed type of country and we have a new and untested leader that many don't know what he's capable of. he might want to flex a muscle to improve the generals never having served in any type of military service . what does that mean when we think of diplomatic channels and how those can be used? is it strictly that we would ask china to do something on our behalf?
>> i think that the disappointing part is it suggests an unwillingness to engage in a serious way in solving issues on the korean peninsula . and i think we're going to have to look to the allies in the region and some of the long his electric in the region to play a role in helping to bring resolution to this relationship between south and north korea . but i think one of the dangers is this is a leader who may not well understand all of the implications of what he says and does both on the korean peninsula and rest of the world . i think we have to watch it closely and take it seriously and understand what's at stake. but understand that this is -- has the potential to be a very serious situation.
>> what's your assessment of the fact that the u.s. was willing to do the joint military exercise with the south, the military drills with the b2 stealth bombers ?
>> i think it was an important message to the ally in south korea to demonstrate to them as well as to north koreans that we stand with our ally and hopefully force the north korean leader kim jong -un to understand that this is not just a conflict between you and south korea , that the potential is much larger.
>> i want to shift the focus back to the other big story we've been following, which is gun control in this country. the president stood alongside family members of newtown victims and other crime victims that have lost children when he had this to say.
>> they are doing everything they can to make all of our progress collapse under the weight of fear and frustration or their assumption is that people will just forget about it.
>> right now do you think that based on where things stand on the hill and the appetite to do something for gun violence reform, has there been a missed opportunity for real action?
>> i don't think there's been a missed opportunity. we have to take action. i think the president is absolutely right. we have seen these horrific shootings and everyone gets upset for a couple of weeks and says we need to do something then memories fade. this time it has to be different. we are fighting and we have to enact responsible gun safety legislation to reduce gun laws in this country. we lost 20 first grade children to gun violence at newtown . since newtown there have been more than 2200 gun deaths in america. we've got to do something about it. what the president and what i've sponsored and called for, universal background checks , eliminate these weapons of war, assault weapons of high capacity ammunition for the neighbors of our city and fix our background check system and be sure people are in the system so criminals and those that are seriously mentally ill don't have access to firearms. these are common sense proposals to keep america safe. i respect and honor's people right to possess a firearm under the second amendment but these are common sense proposals that make sure the most dangerous criminals and people with serious mental illness don't have access to a firearm.
>> the main place legislation could arrive from, the senate democratic side and the senators rand paul and four others, marco rubio , threatening a filibuster or any proposal for gun legislation and we know nothing will erupt from the house side. is it logical to think something will come?
>> i think this is again an important moment for the american people to stay engaged in this fight. for members to be hearing from their constituents every day in the house and in the senate, and demand for responsible gun safety legislation to be enacted. i think it is critical in this moment, we're at a very critical moment that members of the senate in particular hear from their constituents. most americans and even more gun owners favor most of these common sense proposals. we cannot let the power of the nra drown out the voices of ordinary americans who believe in common sense gun safety . i don't think we can give up. this is going to be a tough fight. nra has enormous power in washington, lobbying organize. but the american people have more power and we need to keep up the fight.
>> sir, nice to see you