Meet the Press   |  July 21, 2013

Trayvon Martin fallout: Looping in the gun debate

A Meet the Press roundtable examines how the outcome of the George Zimmerman trial will impact the dialogue on gun control reform in America.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> but that's the key piece, the discussion that starts and ends quickly. i harken back to the gun debate. and the president bootstraps the gun argument with his initial comments the day of the jury verdict. in a way that was disconnected. and if you look at the momentum behind that discussion coming off of sandy hook and the raw emotion from the american people saying we want something done here. let's move on this. what happened? the discussion dissipated. and this was something that the president came in in the beginning and heralded but then let the steam fall out of it. my concern is it's great to step to the podium. i agree with tavis. it's great to step to the podium to be in that moment, but then it's not so much leading but continuing to inspire the conversation so that it doesn't die on the vine. that it does get life of its own because this is a conversation, quite honestly, folks, we need to have first in the black community before you start putting it so much on the president.

>> but look. it is -- the president must lead, but the president needs cohorts. he needs assistance. he needs help. wait a minute. tavis, tavis, let me make my point because my point is is that in order to move a piece of legislation, in order to move action steps, the president can, in fact, lead. and the president is also in an environment of continuing obstruction, that you know well, that you report on.

>> respectfully, marc, nobody has argued that he has been up against a headwind. the obstructionism is real. but with all due respect to charles ogletree , the professor is wrong. i would ask you, lay on the table right now the evidence of how the president has been trying, tree, to have a conversation about race -- no --

>> action.

>> i'm talking to professor ogletree. let me finish my point.

>> that's just a conversation.

>> i don't think that we have a litany here of things, of moments, where he's tried to have the conversation. to the contrary, respectfully, he's tried to avoid the conversation, number one. number two, when he says a politician can't have an impact, so yes, he gives a wonderful spe speech, but he basically kicks it back to community leaders, business leaders, celebrities and athletes, and that's real, but the president can't absolve himself of it. and number three, i don't believe the president doesn't believe that he can have a role in leading us in a moral conversation. this is not a political issue. this is a moral issue. i don't know how he can't lead us in a conversation on this, but he can on gay marriage ? he can on a litany of other -- he can on israel and palestine and not rice?

>> okay, but what is this in particular? i mean, the president spoke about ringing bias from our lives. these are infinite conversations between plaques and whites that are very difficult to have in a big public setting. but i think when you start boiling it down, it is the question i thought he was asking which is what is the this? there is no federal program that can deal with this. so how does he lead and on what does he lead?

>> there is no federal program on this. when he gave the state of the union address this past year, he talked about the idea that we have to do something about guns. he talked candidly about that. he talked about gabby giffords , about all of the victims. he said we simply want a vote. that was him saying i want this to happen. there was a vote. and it failed, right? so he's been pushing that issue on and on again. in terms of what he's done for the community, it's obvious when you look at the things that make a big difference. he's been pushing a jobs plan from the beginning, without success. he believes in that. and i think the reality is that we are expecting all of these things from barack obama as if he's the man who can do it. there's a congressional role. there's a judicial role.

>> we agree on that, charles.

>> it's not just him. there's more that needs to be done.

>> professor, let me see if i can help put some of this in context. you look at what's happened in 2013 . we've got obviously trayvon martin that everybody's talking about. this is happening to black boys across this country every day. you look at the fact that we have a supreme court that just gutted the voting rights act . you look at -- and i'm trying to do the same thing with affirmative action . you look at a house of representatives who just last week took food stamps out of the farm bill . you look at this past week where they have decided to block grant title one. we are being attacked from so many sides. that you have to at some point decide where you can have the most impact. now, i think that the president said what he believed. he tried to make people understand that this is not just about some kid with a hoodie. but i think also we have to look at the fact that there is a broader discussion that we need to have. yes, we need to have a discussion on race, but we also need to have a discussion on how we are treating poor and minority people in this country.