“The game changer,” Biden said in an exclusive Morning Joe interview, “is what happened to those beautiful babies up in Sandy Hook.”
“Weapons of war just don’t belong in the street,” Vice President Joe Biden said on Thursday’s Morning Joe in an exclusive roundtable talk about gun control. “If there’d only been ten bullets in each clip, [the Newtown shooter] would’ve had to change the clip an additional three to five times. One of those kids’d be alive, somebody’d be alive.”
Biden and hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski sat down with four unique voices from the gun debate in an exclusive roundtable conversation, breaking down the national gun conversation debate in a frank discussion.
“The game changer,” Biden said, “is what happened to those beautiful babies up in Sandy Hook.”
Biden challenged the panel on the assault weapons ban and proposed magazine clip limits, two portions of gun control reform that haven’t found much traction. An assault weapons ban will go up for a vote in the Senate on Thursday, but it isn’t expected to pass.
“What are we doing to impact on a gun owner’s right if he only has a clip with ten rounds in it instead of 30 rounds in it?” Biden asked.
“When you have 30 rounds in a magazine, you don’t have to stop shooting people for quite some time, you lead to more deaths,” said Colin Goddard, a Virginia Tech shooting survivor. “Limits on the number of bullets you can put in a gun–any gun, I think, not just assault weapons, but any gun–makes sense.”
Goddard knows too well the impact of lesser weapons: it’s a pistol that shot him four times in his French classroom during his Junior year at Virginia Tech.
“As Colin knows, [the Virginia Tech shooter] didn’t have an assault rifle. He had a pistol, a commonly owned pistol that law enforcement carries across this country all day long,” said Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association.
“And he’s still here, Richard,” host Mika Brzezinski said.
“He’s alive,” host Joe Scarborough said. “I don’t know that he would be, if there was a Bushmaster being shot at him.”
Feldman persisted that an assault weapon ban wouldn’t fix the problem.
“We have to do something that’s relevant to the problem and do it now,” Feldman said. “There are 100 million high-capacity magazines in America. Banning the future sale of them is gonna have no impact.”
Shooting instructor Tina Wilson Cohen agreed. Mental health is “the elephant in the room that we kind of dance around. The high-capacity magazines aren’t the issue,” she said, adding it’s “a slippery slope when we go ahead and start naming certain guns that we have to ban or the high-capacity magazines.”
The panel did find common ground: background checks, they all agreed, must be performed at gun shows and in online purchases. Mental health care must also be expanded.
“There needs to be a great deal of support coming from Washington in that we need to enhance our mental health facilities across this country because they have been losing funding, across the country both at the local and state level that I’m certainly aware of,” said Dr. Cedric Alexander, Police Chief of Dekalb County, Ga. “And I think that’s a key piece to be able to identify– these early signs of those who may be struggling with a mental health.”
Biden also pushed to abandon the unproductive all-or-nothing rhetoric.
“There’s this mindset that unless we can solve everything, we solve nothing,” he said. “That’s a little like saying we have no cure for cancer, so why are we wasting all this time prolonging life with cancer?”
Goddard agreed: “You know, we’re not gonna stop every shooting but we can do better than we’re doing now. We don’t have to accept these things as normal.”
“The best line and the most compelling line I’ve ever heard was from Colin,” Biden remarked. “He said, ‘I’m not here today because it happened to me. I’m here today because of what continues to happen to others.’ And it continues to happen.”