GOP Rep. Thomas Massie Reacts To Trump's Proposed Gun Control Measures
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Earlier this week, we heard from a senator who supports stronger gun control laws - Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Now we're joined by the chair of the Second Amendment Caucus in the House of Representatives, Republican Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky. Congressman, thanks for joining us.
THOMAS MASSIE: Thanks for having me on, Ari.
SHAPIRO: I want to start by talking about that meeting President Trump had yesterday about guns. Let's listen to part of what he said here.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I like taking the guns early, like in this crazy man's case that just took place in Florida. He had a lot of firearms. They saw everything. To go to court would've taken a long time. So you could do exactly what you're saying but take the guns first; go through due process second.
SHAPIRO: Take the guns first is not a phrase many Second Amendment advocates...
SHAPIRO: ...Expect to hear from a Republican president. What's your reaction to that?
MASSIE: Woo, what a doozy.
MASSIE: You know, President Trump won my district by 40 percent - a margin of 40 percent. And I voted for him. But when he's wrong, you know - in this case, he is. He apparently has a lack of regard for due process, and that deeply troubles me. I'm going to call him out on it. And this may be an area where the ACLU and the Tea Party can get together because the Second Amendment's very important, but due process is fundamental to our country.
SHAPIRO: We just heard reporter Kelsey Snell say she's talking to Republicans who say they're losing trust in the president, finding him to be an unreliable negotiating partner. Are you part of that camp?
MASSIE: Well, I don't think it was - there was ever a really good relationship between anybody in Washington and the president. He's always - he started out at odds with Paul Ryan. And I think there's still a little bit a rocky relationship there.
SHAPIRO: I mean, you said you voted for him. He carried 40 percent of your district.
SHAPIRO: Are your constituents starting to wonder if this man is as much of an ally of theirs as they thought he was?
MASSIE: Well, I don't think he's going to come back to a rally of 30,000 people in Kentucky with Dianne Feinstein next to his side and John Cornyn on the other side proposing gun control. By the way, the Murphy-Cornyn bill has a problem with due process as well. It's kind of - we'll take the guns first, and then we'll do due process. That's what that nix fix is.
SHAPIRO: I also want to ask you about what's happening at the Justice Department where Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will soon announce a decision on banning bump stocks. What's your reaction to that?
MASSIE: I don't think the president or the executive branch has that authority. If they want to do that, they should come to Congress. The ATF and the AG - it's not like the EPA where we've given them a broad mandate to make clean air or clean water. All of the things that are banned are statutorily defined. And even under the Obama administration, the ATF said that bump stocks couldn't be defined that way. But I think it's really a distraction, and it's not something that concerns gun owners as much as the slew of gun control that the president suggested yesterday.
SHAPIRO: To look at what's happening in the Senate - this afternoon, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said senators will not vote right away. He said, I'm hoping there is a way forward. I know you're in the House, not the Senate, but what do you make of this latest development?
MASSIE: Well, you know, they tried to fast-track the Cornyn-Murphy bill this week in the Senate before the president made his announcement, and there were three senators that stood up to that - Mike Lee, Rand Paul and, I think, Kennedy - and slowed that down. But really that's all they do when they object to unanimous consent. They slow it down. I suspect they're going to get back on track and try to push the Cornyn-Murphy bill. And that's what we're going to see in the House. I will oppose it again because I have due process concerns with it as well.
SHAPIRO: I'd like to ask you about the general political moment that we're in. As I mentioned, we spoke with Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat who has pushed for tighter restrictions on guns. And here's part of what he said earlier this week.
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CHRIS MURPHY: This is just a matter of political power dynamics. We need more power. We'll get it, and we'll eventually be as strong as the gun lobby.
SHAPIRO: He believes the tide is turning in his side's direction. Do you worry that he's right?
MASSIE: The media tide has turned. But here in middle America, I don't sense that the tide has turned. A lot of folks, especially my constituents, recognize that Columbine wouldn't have been stopped by the Murphy-Cornyn bill. They recognize that the shooting in Connecticut wouldn't have been stopped, nor the Pulse nightclub shooting. So they see these proposals for what they are. They're unserious solutions to a real problem.
SHAPIRO: Do you think that having a national debate on guns is helpful for Second Amendment advocates, or is it a moment that you're sort of back on your heels until attention moves elsewhere?
MASSIE: I'm glad we're having this debate. We were moving forward in a sense that there was a notion we might get reciprocity passed - concealed carry reciprocity. And it passed the House. But it's definitely sort of stalled momentum for the pro-gun side. But I don't know that it's turning the other way. I'm always glad to have this debate.
SHAPIRO: Well, Congressman Massie, we appreciate your talking with us today. Thanks for coming on the program.
MASSIE: Thanks, Ari.
SHAPIRO: Republican Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky is the chairman of the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.