Meet the Press | April 14, 2013
>> i want to get to a couple of other issues including the gun control debate. striking moment this weekend when you had one of the family members of the victims in newtown actually give the weekly address that the president normally gives. wheeler had this to say. i want to play a portion of it and get your response.
>> we have to convince the senate to come together and pass common sense gun responsibility reforms that will make our communities safer and prevent more tragedies like the one we never thought would happen to us.
>> how do you answer francine wheeler when you are opposed to expanding background checks , when you voted even to oppose this debate coming forward in the senate?
>> well, first of all, let the me say my heart, as everyone else's, goes out to these families. i actually met with these families including her and her husband. it was, i can tell you, the most emotional meeting i've ever had in my service. i admire these families because, quite frankly , their agenda is not a political one. they are trying to turn this horrifying tragedy into a positive in terms of getting changes in public policy, and i applaud them for that. here is my point and has always been my point on gun laws . they are highly ineffective in terms of accomplish the following goal and that is to protect the right of law abiding citizens to possess weapons which the second amendment guarantees, the constitutional right, and they are ineffective at keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals who quite frankly because they're criminals don't care what the law is. so i'm not opposed to all gun laws . i'm just opposed to the ones that don't do those two things, don't protect the right to keep firearms.
>> don't you need to be challenged?
>> i don't think these accomplish that.
>> there are checks at the federal level . this would expand those checks in order to shore up certain loopholes. how is it that those additional checks would undermine the second amendment?
>> well, first of all, we have, for example, concealed weapons permits across the country. i have one. these are people that are preapproved in terms of getting concealed weapons permit. perhaps there's a way to accommodate that across all 50 states where concealed weapons permit is treated as a de facto background check . ultimately the reason we are doing this, in essence we are spending all of our time talking about background checks as if criminals will no longer get guns because they have to undergo a background check , we're lying to people. that isn't true. the fact of the matter is we have a violence problem in america. guns are what people are using, but violence is our problem and no one is having a debate about the violence problem. and i think this is a missed opportunity to have an honest and open conversation in this country about why these horrifying things are happening. not simply what they're using to carry this out but why are people doing this to it begin with and all the focus is on laws that only law abiding people are going to follow.
>> you know the political analysis right now as a pro-suspect issive 2016 nominee, you have to be careful not to stray too far from the republican party on guns particularly when you're stepping out trying to be a leader on immigration. you have to pick your areas where you're going to stand out.
>> david, i disagree with that. my position on guns is the same as they've always been. the second is amendment is a constitutional right. i didn't write that. that's in there. anytime you're going to do anything that impacts a constitutional right, the scrutiny should be very, very high. and that's what i'm applying to th this. if someone can produce a law that keeps guns out of the hands of criminals but protects the rights of law abiding citizens to possess them and doesn't infringe on those rights, i would support that. i haven't fully read the toomey/manchin compromise but all the proposals do not reach that. we are miss iing a golden opportunity to have an important debate about violence in our society. violence in our society is the problem.