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'For a criminal practice, there has to be a gun'

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) hosted a town-hall event in his district this week, and was asked by a constituent about his position on Glass-Steagall and "Wall Street criminal practices" in general. The congressman's response was ... unusual.

For those who can't watch clips online, McClintock told voters, "Well first of all, for a criminal practice, there has to be a gun. It's pretty simple."

Now, McClintock is pretty far out there -- he boasts about his memberships in the far-right Republican Study Committee and Tea Party Caucus -- but I doubt he means this literally. Car thieves are engaged in a criminal practice, whether or not they carry a gun. Those who sell drugs to children are also engaged in a criminal practice, armed or unarmed.

But in context, McClintock seems to believe financial industry crimes aren't terribly serious. Indeed, he specifically referenced predatory loans, apparently unclear what they even are: "When I hear about predatory lending, for example, my first question is, well that's just terrible. You shouldn't be allowed to force somebody to take out a loan they don't want."

First, that's not actually a question. Second, after watching the video a few times, I think he means that unless a loan is accepted at gunpoint, he doesn't much care.

In any case, McClintock went on to endorse a largely unregulated financial system: instead of preventing crises, we'll just "stop bailing out people's bad decisions."

The very idea of financial industry improprieties seems like a foreign concept to the congressman -- apparently because industry insiders carry a fountain pen instead of a literal firearm.