The Reid Report   |  February 28, 2014

20th anniversary of the Brady Law

Events marking the 20th anniversary of the Brady Law remind us that effective gun control in America is one spot where the progressive movement still struggles for a foothold. Jan Withers from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Jennifer Hoppe from Moms Demand Action discuss what’s ahead with Joy Reid.

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

>>> reid report. in a moment, the conspiracy theory greatest hits of the go. . congressman cummings will discuss his republican colleagues on that session with the tax agency. and later we break down the oscars. can 12 years a slave take the big prize. but we start with a quick update on the situation this ukraine. ousted president viktor yanukovych spoke to ukranians from russia today . he claimed in a performance that was either defiant or bizarre that he's still the president and that no one has overthrown him. also he says he never gave orders to fire on protesters last week when scores of demonstrators died just one day before he fled his palace and tossed his papers in to a river. his speech comes as up identified armed men patrolled two airports in the crimean region of ukraine on the black sea . the area is home to not only many ethnic russians , but also russia's black sea fleet . ukranian officials say the men are russian troops, however, no one has independently confirmed those allegations. and now to today's 20th anniversary of the brady bill . in a week where we've seen progressive forces push back against potentially discriminatory bills in arizona and other states, and where recent headlines indicate that despite another potential repeal vote, obamacare isn't quite the rallying cry for republicans once was, events mashirking today's anniversary remind us that effective gun control is one area where the progressive movement still struggles for a foothold. signed by president clinton in november of 1993 , the bill itself took six years of politics to pass. 13 if you start counting from the attempted assassination of president reagan . but once it did pass, the number of lives saved can be calculated by the number of gun sales blocked. the brady center to prevent gun violence reports that more than 2 million gun sales to people who failed their background checks have been blocked in the past two decades. that includes more than a million would-be sales to felons and more than a quarter million to domestic abusers. that's the good news. but efforts to close gun show and internet loopholes which account for about 40% of gun sales have failed. and speaking at an anniversary event today, nancy pelosi pointed out it's not because background checks are unpopular.

>> if we take this bill up on the floor, it will pass. the votes are there. the american people are more than there.

>> last year, johns hopkins university researchers found universal background checks are popular across the board with a vast majority of both gun owners and nra members saying basically yes, we approve. that poll was conducted shortly after the december 2012 mass shootings in connect the cut that killed 26 children and adults at sandy hook elementary. after that tragedy, progressives and others thought effective gun control was pretty much inevitable. instead of bipartisan bill introduced in the senate by pennsylvania republican pat toomey and west virginia democrat joe manchin failed to pass a critical hurdle in the legislative process. and that's despite getting more than 50 votes. in fact, the "new york times" reports that last year the gun control movement actually lost ground. 109 state laws passed, 70 of them loosening restrictions primarily on things like concealed carry. if anything, the obama years have been for the business in the gun industry very, very good. and according to the atf, the number of guns manufactured in president obama 's first term alone nearly equals the number manufactured in president bush 's two terms. as an editor for a pro gun magazine told business week, barack obama is the stimulus package for the firearms industry. the program director for moms who demand action, which was formed in the wake of the newtown tragedy. jennifer , quantify for us in your view the impact that the brady law has had on the u.s. since it was passed.

>> well, it's impossible to quantity guy the effect because goodness knows how many lives have been saved. as you you mentioned, more than 2.1 million dangerous people , fell on, domestic abusers, other folks who shouldn't have a gun have been prevented from getting one. so we'll never know how many lives have been saved, but the impact it's had has been immeasurable.

>> and i want to bring in jan withers, mothers against drunk driving . you formed a grass roots group in response to it apepidemic of deaths related to drunk driving . you can give us lessons from what you learned that might help mothers demand action to be more successful?

>> i think one of the most successful things about madd is that we put a face to the issue. we're a true grass roots organization that is out in the forefront, and many of those people have been personally victimized by drunk driving ppg so we continue to keep a face to the issue instead of it just being statistics and numbers. we really show the human element of the effects of drupg drink driving .

>> i want to go back to on you that jennifer . clearly moms demand action with the horrific tragedy we saw in newtown and gun deaths that we've seen, the jordan davis case, why is it that that visibility, that personal face is that being placed on the issue of gun violence hasn't been more successful in moving legislation?

>> well, we've had enormous success and enormous grass roots success in the 14 months since sandy hook . and this is a marathon, not a sprint. the gun lobby has had a head start on moms, but we really woke up in the wake of sandy hook and our organization was explicitly -- we explicitly looked to mothers against drunk driving for lessons as to how we could be the most effective. and in just 14 month, we've had incredible amount of energy devoted to this issue. moms have woken up to this. we have our children's lives at stake and we are tenacious. myself, i have not had a loss due to gun violence , but i got involved in this organization because i don't want to. and i think that we work with moms likelucy who have been impacted by that loss because there is no more eloquent face than the face of a grieving mother to show the impact.

>> are you focusing your efforts on federal legislators or --

>> have not given up the fight on extended background checks . we've had enormous success at the state level, as well. we do have a chapter in every state. last year background checks were passed in colorado, new york, connecticut and delaware. so we are moving the issue. and we are very confident that we are going to change the culture, not just the laws, but the culture.

>> and goal back to jan, just taking the lesson from madd which has been so successful, in terms of moving the culture, what advice would you give in term of the agentity vicctivism in terms o f getting bigger social movement going?

>> change the culture is exactly right. and just keep on. i think a major, major issue on this is to remain laser beam focused on the mission. it's so easy to drift away from it and get distracted, but do what works. we in ma can dd follow the data. and we do what research shows is most effective in preventing drupg driving. but progress is not enough. we've cut the deaths in half from drunk driving since madd began. but that's not enough. and we won't rest. and we are as determined as ever up there are no more drunk driving deaths.

>> and going back to jennifer , just looking at what happened in arizona , i think what was so remarkable to people was the fact that not just the moral outrage was mobilized there, but really economic pressure was put on arizona because of all of the big corporations that also weighed in. is will a plan in place with moms command action and other similar groups to start to marshal friends about the big business world to get on your side?

>> absolutely. i would point to our campaign asking starbucks to change their begun po gun policy. what we were con froshfronted with were people carrying ar 15s into get their lattes and we pressured sar bucks to say this is not acceptable. we have moms in states like north carolina that have passed laws to allow guns in places like bars and establishments that serve alcohol. they are knocking on doors and making the business owners aware that they have the right to post a sign that says no firearms are allowed here and they're having great success. so you are absolutely right that it's a cultural change . there are many ways to move us from a country that has 33 deaths due to gun violence a day to a country that has far fewer.

>> well, you guys are doing excellent work. thank you both.