Face the Nation October 8, 2017 Transcript: Feinstein, LaPierre
JOHN DICKERSON, HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: The fourth hurricane to hit the U.S. in less than two months pounds the Gulf Coast.
The nation's top diplomat tries to make peace with the commander in chief, and America mourns the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history, while asking what can be done to prevent the next one.
Hurricane Nate floods highways and parking lots and leaves more than 100,000 without power. We will have the latest from Biloxi, Mississippi.
Meanwhile, in Washington this week, a great mystery unfolded when President Trump hinted at a different kind of storm on the horizon.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You guys know what this represents? Well, maybe it's the calm before the storm.
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DICKERSON: Could he be referring to possible military action in North Korea, ditching the Iran nuclear agreement, or could it be plans to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who reportedly privately referred to the president as a moron?
Over the weekend, the president suggested Tillerson's job was safe.
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TRUMP: We disagree on a couple of things. Sometimes, I would like him to be a little bit tougher, but, other than that, we have a very good relationship.
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DICKERSON: And, in Las Vegas, investigators are still trying to determine Stephen Paddock's motive for killing 58 people and wounding close to 500. We will preview what they told CBS News' "60 Minutes" of his meticulous planning.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had written the distance, the elevation he was on, the drop-off of what his bullet was going to be, so he would know where to shoot to his target.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DICKERSON: Lawmakers in Washington call for a gun control measures after the attack. We will talk with the National Rifle Association's chief executive officer, Wayne LaPierre, and longtime advocate for stricter gun laws Senator Dianne Feinstein.
And from college football:
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please join us now in a moment of silence to recognize the 58 souls we have lost.
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DICKERSON: To "Saturday Night Live."
The nation honors the victims of the rampage. We will have our own words of tribute.
All that and plenty of political analysis ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION.
We want to begin this morning with Mark Strassmann, who is in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Mark, Nate was a hurricane when it hit the Gulf Coast, but has now been downgraded to a tropical storm. How bad is the initial damage and is the worst over?
MARK STRASSMANN, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.
Well, this is the call after the storm that was Nate. Nate came ashore with its 85-mile-per-hour winds in the dead of night, as predicted. The major worry was storm surge. Up to 11 feet was forecast, and flooding poured into the city's casinos. That was one issue.
The good news is that nobody was reported hurt or killed. But in four states, 100,000 people have lost power.
John, this was such a fast-moving storm that the cleanup here in Biloxi has already begun.
DICKERSON: So, Mark, where is the is the storm headed next?
STRASSMANN: Well, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia. In fact, John, much of the Deep South is going to have a very soggy Sunday.
DICKERSON: Mark Strassmann for us in Biloxi -- thanks, Mark.
We turn now to the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Senator Dianne Feinstein joins us from San Francisco.
Senator, you are supporting a bill that would ban these bump fire stocks. Do you have any Republican support for that bill?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: We have Republican interest.
I have nobody lined up. We have 38 co-sponsors. They're all Democratic. We have had individuals that have indicated an interest, and particularly for a hearing.
DICKERSON: The NRA put out a statement on Thursday suggesting they would support looking into regulations that would keep these bump fire stocks from being sold. What did you make of that position?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I thought that is a step forward. And it is appreciated.
Regulations aren't going to do it. We need a law. It can't be changed by another president. Right now, we are seeing one president change actions of a president that came before him. And that would happen in this area.
And I hope that Americans will step up and say, enough is enough. Congress, do something.
DICKERSON: What do you make of the increased sales of bump fire stock in the wake of the shooting and then now legislation?
See, I don't know what to make of it. What this event said, this is a well-to-do man. He wasn't mentally ill. He wasn't a criminal. He wasn't a juvenile. He wasn't a gangbanger. And he was able to buy 40 weapons over a period of time, have 12 bump stocks, line them up, break through two windows in his hotel suite, and take aim at tens of thousands -- well, I guess, over 1,000 people at a concert.
And this was such a cross-section of America, that it really struck at every one of us that this could happen to you. And we want to stop it.
DICKERSON: Could there have been any law passed that would have stopped him?
He passed background checks registering for handguns and other weapons on multiple occasions. DICKERSON: One of the things that has been a part of this debate is some people right after this massacre called for more gun regulations, said something must be done, blamed the NRA.
And what gun rights advocates heard is, they heard that call for something to be done, and what they heard in that is people essentially saying, we want to ban semiautomatic weapons.
FEINSTEIN: Well, that is just plain wrong.
This is written in clean English. You can take a look at it. I will send a copy of it. It is a two-page bill. I will send a copy of it to anyone who calls our office. And you can look at it yourself. It does not take anyone's gun.
DICKERSON: From the other side, those who would like to restrict guns in America who hear a bill targeted, as you have described it, narrowly at this idea -- at bump fire stocks and say, the only way to stop this kind of situation in America is to ban these kinds of semiautomatic weapons and weapons that can fire with rapidity, and anything short of that is insufficient.
What do you say to those people?
FEINSTEIN: I agree with them, to a great extent.
What I don't -- because, as you know, I did the assault weapons legislation in 1993, which was the law of the land for 10 years. So I believe -- I mean, I have watched this thing, from the Texas bell tower to today in schools, in businesses, in workplaces. No one appears to be safe anywhere.
DICKERSON: Let me ask you a question, get your thoughts on another piece of legislation...
DICKERSON: ... the NRA has mentioned in response to this shooting.
They have talked about passing the concealed carry reciprocity, which essentially allows somebody who has a concealed carry permit in one state to carry it throughout all other states, the way, say, a driver's license would work.
What is your opinion of that bill, which is in the Senate?
FEINSTEIN: Well, my opinion of that bill is, it's terrible.
We want every American to feel comfortable packing a concealed weapon around the country? I represent 40 million Californians, and I can say without hesitation Californians do not want concealed carry.
DICKERSON: If they say, though, that this is a right protected in -- by the Second Amendment of the Constitution, why is it California who gets to deny people the exercise of that right? FEINSTEIN: Well, I don't believe it is protected by the Constitution, to conceal it without a permit.
DICKERSON: Well, in this case, they would say if you had a permit in one state, then that permit would be honored by the other states, again, like to say a license would be for driving.
FEINSTEIN: I am saying that the state I represent would not want any part of that, nor should any American.
You just make the situation worse. You let somebody with a weapon who may do you harm get chose to you. Why would you want that?
DICKERSON: Let me switch here to another topic for you, which is the Senate Intelligence Committee work that you have been doing.
Chairman Burr of that committee said that question of collusion between the Russians trying to influence the election and the Trump campaign was still an open question.
Is that because there is more disclosures that suggest it is a possibility, or just because nothing has been found yet, and it is an open question because there is no proof that it has happened?
FEINSTEIN: I think the latter.
It is an open question, because there is no proof yet that has happened. And I think that proof will likely come with Mr. Mueller's investigation. He has got the ability to use a grand jury. He has got the ability to use the power of subpoena, without question. And he has got the ability to do a criminal investigation.
And that is what is going on. And I think that is where the information will come. What happens in a political body -- and I am finding this as the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee -- everything has to be negotiated with the party in power. And it is very difficult to do an investigation under those circumstances.
DICKERSON: Final question, Senator.
The president is thinking about decertifying the Iranian nuclear deal, which means he would essentially kick it over the Congress and say, Congress, you can sanction Iran again or add new sanctions which would break the deal.
If Congress did nothing, the deal would essentially remain intact.
What do you think the appetite is in Congress for more sanctions on Iran?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I will tell you this, John. Yesterday, or day before yesterday now, in the Senate Judiciary Committee, we had a very complete intelligence briefing on Iran.
There is no question but that Iran has complied with the strictures of the deal. And when either IAEA found something or anyone else found something, it was quickly remedied, if there was a glitch.
So, they have cooperated, I think, 100 percent. The greatest ramification from this would be to really create a crisis with North Korea, because it would give North Korea reason to believe, well, nothing the Republicans do can you trust.
When you have the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States all agreeing to support something, and then the United States goes through an election, the new president pulls us out, what does that say?
DICKERSON: All right, Senator Feinstein, thanks so much for being with us.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you, John.
DICKERSON: Joining us now is the executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre.
WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VP, NRA: Thank you, John.
DICKERSON: Senator Feinstein wants legislation to ban bump fire stocks. What is the NRA position on that?
LAPIERRE: You know, can I say first this has been a tragic week?
And we had NRA members out there in the middle of that tragedy. We had NRA families. We had families wounded out there. It just has been horrible.
But to the people that are trying to politicize this tragedy, I would say this. There are monsters like this monster out there every day. There are menaces out there every day. People want to be able to protect themselves.
That's why they support this freedom. All the elites that have been speaking out this past week, they all want to protect themselves. They all protect themselves with armed security. I mean, they criticize the NRA.
You want to talk about irresponsible use of firearms? The number one person teaching irresponsible use of firearms is all these elites' employer, the Hollywood, television, gaming industry. We spend millions teaching responsible use of firearms. They make billions every single day, John, teaching irresponsible use of firearms.
They are so hypocritical, it is unbelievable.
DICKERSON: But is it really an elite position for a person to think, if there is evil in the world, perhaps there should be something that is makes it a little harder for the evil person to get their hand on something that can fire bullets with such rapidity, then bump fire stocks, which make it available to fire them even faster?
That is not elite. That is just somebody trying to figure out how to have less people be dead.
LAPIERRE: Well, I do think this.
If we could have legislate morality, we would have done it long ago. I mean, as we've talked before, Paris would not have happened. They outlaw fully automatic guns. Brussels. San Bernardino. California has every gun law under the sun. It still happens. I mean, the bad people could care.
But on bump stocks, let me say this. The fact is that they're -- the Obama administration a couple years ago legalized the device, their ATF, that fuzzed the line between semiautomatics and fully automatics.
And if we are able to fuzz that line, all semiautomatics are at risk. I have been arguing with Dianne Feinstein for years, who has been trying to ban semiautos, saying a semiauto, is a semiauto, semiauto. It is not an assault weapon, like you say, Dianne Feinstein, and it is not a machine gun.
DICKERSON: But in...
LAPIERRE: If you fuzz the line, they are all at risk. And we are not going to let that happen.
DICKERSON: Well, let's not fuzz the line.
She says this specific piece of legislation just bans bump fire stocks. So, does the NRA support that or no?
LAPIERRE: The ATF -- it's illegal to convert a semiautomatic to a fully automatic. ATF needs to do its job. They need to look at this and do its job.
DICKERSON: Her argument is, and the ATF's is, they can't rule on this, it is out of their purview, that it has to be done in legislation.
So, is the NRA position it can't be done through legislation, or you oppose it? Where are you on this?
LAPIERRE: No, we think ATF ought to do its job, look at this, and draw a bright line.
DICKERSON: If I am a Republican, and I am a fan of the NRA, do I want to say no or yes to legislation that does this?
LAPIERRE: I think you want to tell ATF to do its job. It is an interpretive the issue. And they need to get the job done, but not let Dianne Feinstein, which is what she wants to do, turn this all into some Christmas tree on the Hill, where she brings all of her anti-gun circus she has been trying to do for years into this.
DICKERSON: Well, here is the problem people have with the NRA, is, they hear you say that.
DICKERSON: And, basically, they say, what Mr. LaPierre is trying to do is tell any gun owner that any measure to regulate guns of any kind is really an effort to take their guns away. Therefore, they should be fearful that you are basically trying to scare them.
LAPIERRE: We have all kinds of gun laws on the books right now, John. We don't enforce anyone of them.
If somebody wanted to do something about Chicago, enforce the federal gun laws right now. Felon touches a gun, five years in prison. Drug dealers, 10 to 20. Criminal gang member, 10 to 20.
I mean, Dianne Feinstein, universal checks, she has been talking about this last week. There is not a gang member in Chicago that is going, hey, I am going to get you, but first I have to go through Dianne Feinstein's background check.
It is nonsense.
DICKERSON: Let me ask you.
Let me -- stepping back, does the NRA -- is the NRA position that you are OK with the current restrictions against fully automatic?
LAPIERRE: We have supported the existing law on fully automatic firearms.
And what we don't want is, we don't want the line to be fuzzed, because, if you fuzz the line, you are putting every semiautomatic firearm for years -- and I have corrected Diana Feinstein over and over and over when she says assault weapons, they are fully automatic guns.
I said they are not. But if somebody fuzzes the line, you are putting every semiautomatic firearm at risk.
DICKERSON: But, to be fair to Dianne Feinstein, she didn't fuzz the line in the conversation we just had. She was actually, perhaps because over the years you have come out on the winning end of these arguments, said that this only deals with this one specific bump fire stock.
So, in this case, the line is not being fuzzed.
LAPIERRE: Well, the fact is, the bump stock does fuzz the line, though, and that's why ATF needs to do its job.
But we really need to get back -- I mean, if we are going to do something, let's do something meaningful. I mean, the outrage they are trying to stir against the NRA, they ought to be stirring against the mental health system, which has completely collapsed.
All the police officers know it. They are back on the streets. We have dumped it on the police officers. We ought to enforce the federal gun laws and do something about our criminal justice system, which is catch and release. Places like D.C. are second-chance cities.
Well, the second chance is taken out against the good guys.
DICKERSON: Have you talked to President Trump about any of this?
LAPIERRE: You know, I have not. I think some people in our -- have talked to the administration.
But we have let him know where we stand. But it comes down to, at 2:00 a.m., if your glass breaks in the middle of the night, there is not a government authority on the planet that substitutes for your right to own a firearm. People want to be able to protect themselves when they cross a state line.
That's why we are fighting for reciprocity. It is about the good guys protecting themselves.
DICKERSON: Let me ask you about reciprocity.
Federalism suggests the state should make their laws; 32 states, I think, have said they don't want reciprocity. Why should the federal government come in and tell the states what to do?
LAPIERRE: Well, 42 states now have good carry laws.
And the fact is, I don't think those states have a problem with their folks protecting themselves when they cross a state line. I mean, the honest people -- nobody should be forced to face evil with empty hands.
And the fact is, we don't want the honest people crossing a state line, somebody that ought to be in jail inflicting evil on them, and then the honest person going, oh, no, not me. That's their last words.
DICKERSON: The people from the other side see in and they say, why are -- is it so easy to get very lethal weapons?
Is that just the price of freedom, in your view?
LAPIERRE: Criminals could care less.
You know, I mean, accessibility is about accessibility for the good guys. That's what the Second Amendment is all about.
And, as I have said all along, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
DICKERSON: But, in this case, no good guys with a gun.
You had members of the band saying, if they pulled out their weapons, they would worried they would get shot. LAPIERRE: Well, I'll tell you, in Las Vegas, the first thing I heard people say when they sheltered in place, is somebody said, hey, do you want a gun? I mean, does anybody have a gun?
DICKERSON: So, is it your view it would have helped in Las Vegas?
LAPIERRE: Finally, good guys with guns got there.
I mean, the guy killed himself first. But thank God there were good guys with guns on the way.
I mean, Dianne Feinstein wants this utopian world without guns. She said, if I could go door to door and pick them all up, I would.
But the fact is, in that utopian world, what -- what -- every time bad happens, evil happens, it is good guys with guns that stop it.
DICKERSON: All right, we are out of time. Thanks so much, Mr. LaPierre.
LAPIERRE: Thanks, John. Thanks for having me.
DICKERSON: And we will be back in a minute.
DICKERSON: On tonight's "60 Minutes," the Las Vegas police officers who stormed gunman Stephen Paddock's hotel room speak in depth for the first time with correspondent Bill Whitaker, and reveal what they found.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did notice a note on the nightstand near his shooting platform. I could see on it, he had written the distance, the elevation he was on, the drop-off of what his bullet was going to be for those -- for the crowd.
So, he had that written down and figured out, so he would know where to shoot to hit his targets from there.
BILL WHITAKER, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: What were the numbers? I'm just trying to -- he had done calculations or he...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
He had written -- he must have done the calculations or gone online or something to figure it out of what his altitude was going to be on how high up he was, how far out the crowd was going to be, and what at -- at that distance, what his drop of his bullet was going to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP) DICKERSON: We are joined now by a former homeland security adviser to George W. Bush and CBS News national security analyst, Fran Townsend, and former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole.
Mary Ellen, I want to start with you.
You have heard about those careful calculations Stephen Paddock took. What does that have to say to you about careful his planning was? What does that you about him?
MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: It tells me two things.
He wanted the note to be found. He is very meticulous in the planning. And to carry that down to recording the exact distances between him and the ground, between him and the targets, I think it really is very telling about how detailed he was.
DICKERSON: Fran, at the end of last year, DHS and FBI did a threat assessment. And they talked about lone wolf shooters.
And they talked about the fact that there were soft targets, the ability to hit civilians. And one thing they listed in the catalog here was the ability to inflict significant casualties with weapons that do not require specialized knowledge, access or training. Then they mentioned the shootings in Orlando and San Bernardino.
How much are guns a part of the homeland security picture?
FRAN TOWNSEND, CBS NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, this is a tremendous problem.
And, you know, while -- I think the legislation that Dianne Feinstein is talking about on bump fire stocks does not go far enough, right? You need to prohibit the purchase, the sale and the possession of these bump fire stocks.
But we're not talking about the single greatest factor that is in lethality, which is these high-capacity ammunition magazines. That is what allows you to fire many bullets before reloading. And, literally, the empirical evidence is, those are the single greatest factor.
When you use that kind of a weapon, it increases lethal 300 percent. And so in states where they ban these high-capacity magazines, they reduce the likelihood of a mass shooting by 63 percent. And so if we really want to have an impact, what you need to do is stop the high -- the access to these high-capacity ammunition magazines.
DICKERSON: Mary Ellen, we have about 40 seconds left.
What does it tell you, as a profiler, that somebody who purchases a lot of guns over a period of time, who buys this much ammunition, going -- what does that tell you?
O'TOOLE: Well, it tells me that there is a real fascination with weapons, especially if it covers a broad array of weapons.
And if you compound that with someone who also has a fascination with violence, and who may manifest certain personality traits which we saw in the crime scene, that is a very lethal combination.
DICKERSON: All right.
We are going to have to hold it right there.
And we will be back with more of this conversation and my thoughts on hope after tragedy.
Stay with us.
DICKERSON: After a tragedy like the shooting in Las Vegas, so much of our focus stays on the killer, especially since we don't know the motive.
This keeps the trauma fresh and has the perverse effect of keeping the inhuman act before our eyes at just the time when reminders of our humanity is what we need, whether we were directly affected by the shooting or not.
So, let's stare for a moment at some of the acts of selflessness, humanity and bravery in Las Vegas.
Marine veteran Taylor Winston took a stranger's truck, drove victims to the hospital and returned to the shooting to do it again.
Jonathan Smith led more than two dozen people to safety, and was then saved by Tom McGrath, an off-duty officer, who stopped Smith's bleeding when Smith was shot.
Firefighters Steve Keys was shot in the chest and wounded while performing CPR on another victim.
Jack Beaton died shielding his wife of 23 years on their anniversary.
Some of these people dedicated their lives to helping others all the time in the military or as first-responders or as volunteers. Others simply had the human instinct. Tragedy called it out, but it was there before.
We are surrounded by people who cultivate selflessness and generosity every day. And we can all honor the sense of common humanity we feel in the wake of this tragedy by kindling a similar spirit ourselves in our daily lives.
After a tragedy, we light candles to those who have died, but we can also carry a light into the world as well, as a tribute to those who no longer can.
We will be back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DICKERSON: You can keep up with the news of the week by subscribing to the FACE THE NATION Diary podcast. Find us on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast platform.
We will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION.
Stay with us.
DICKERSON: We continue our conversation with former homeland security advisor to George W. Bush and CBS News national security analyst Fran Townsend, and former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole.
Fran, I want to start with you. We were talking about the availability of semiautomatic weapons. As a terrorist threat, there have been al Qaeda operatives or terrorists who have pointed this out, the accessibility in America.
FRAN TOWNSEND, CBS NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's right. Adam Gadahn, who was an American-born al Qaeda member released a video in 2011 calling on al Qaeda -- al Qaeda members and like-minded terrorists in the United States to take advantage of U.S. -- the accessibility to guns in the United States. Frankly, I think authorities have been surprised, myself included, that we've not seen more of this.
But, I would point out, just this week, authorities announced a 2016 plot in New York City where taking guns and shooting inside the New York City subway system was an aspects of that plot.
And so, you know, it's not like al Qaeda, ISIS and the terrorists don't watch what happens in the United States. And the fact that Las Vegas was not terrorist related doesn't mean that terrorists aren't watching the method of operation and considering it for their own plans.
DICKERSON: So they can go to school on this essentially?
DICKERSON: Mary Ellen, let me ask you about the motive, the fact that there is not one yet identified. Is that very curious to you?
MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY FORENSIC SCIENCE PROGRAM: It is very curious. But we may have to look at this a little bit differently. And I -- what I mean by that is, there may not be an external trigger. This may -- because it's so complicated and because it's so sensational, extraordinary, that this -- it may have been self-triggered by him years ago, somebody who did not want to be ordinary, somebody who had an interest in violence and collected guns. This was a plan that he had in the works for years. And he made the decision of when he would -- would act it out.
So we may be looking for the wrong thing. It may not have been externally triggered. And that makes it harder to find out.
DICKERSON: If you were doing this, what would you look for? I mean --
O'TOOLE: I'd be looking for -- I'd be going into interviews with other people, really exploring his personality and not specifically looking for an external trigger, like was it the hotel? Was it the music industry? I'd be exploring in detail his personality and looking to see whether or not, if this really is someone who has psychopathic traits, that would explain a lot as well, which is not a mental illness, it's a personality disorder. You have a very lethal combination of an individual here. And I think, unfortunately, the general public really does misunderstand violence and who's capable of it.
DICKERSON: Fran, going forward, big venue events, what -- what -- what can change a to protect them?
TOWNSEND: Well, let's remember, our current understanding is people, as they entered the venue, the 22,000 at the concert, they looked at the bags. It wasn't as though there was no security at the perimeter. But when you're talking about someone who planned to do it from outside the perimeter, it becomes much more difficult.
I think what you'll see is, in the United States, hotels and complexes are going to look at screening bags. Why did -- could he get all of these guns and weapons up there, a lot of weight, a lot of ammunition. You know, at the Mandalay Bay, there is a last security guard before you go up to the elevator. Maybe you put screening there.
It's a big complex. This is very complicated for large hotel complexes, but complexes in Las Vegas immediately following, like the Wynn, actually did institute screening.
DICKERSON: So is your view that hotels basically are going to have to make this a new part of their operating procedure?
TOWNSEND: You know, I think that people are going to look at that and I think it's far more likely, John. I think, frankly, what we ought to do is look at the actual root cause of the problem, which is these high capacity ammunition magazines and deal with it at that level as opposed to imposing the problem on the hotels and their guests.
DICKERSON: All right.
Mary Ellen, quickly, what would you be asking the girlfriend?
O'TOOLE: I would be asking her to -- just open-ended questions. To tell me about his personality. Tell me what it was like when you traveled with him. Tell me what it was like when the two of you were alone at home. Just walk me through your dinner. Walk me through -- and not -- not have her screen anything she tells me. I'll screen it. You just tell me what life was like with him and just get her into a narrative.
DICKERSON: Yes. All right. Thanks so much. We've run out of time. Thanks to you both.
And we'll be right back.
DICKERSON: Joining us now from Culver City, California, is Adam Winkler, law professor at the University of California Los Angeles, and the author of "Gun Fight: A History of the Debate over Gun Control."
Mr. Winkler, I want to start with the idea -- a narrow question and then we're going to broaden out. Senator Feinstein said she could think of no law that would have stopped this massacre in Las Vegas. Is that the way it looks to you as well?
ADAM WINKLER, UCLA, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: Well, it looks like that, although maybe Dianne Feinstein should take a little credit. She proposed to ban these bump fire stocks in 2012 and in 2013 with proposals that were -- went nowhere in Congress. So perhaps these devices could have been taken off the market beforehand. Although that probably would not have stopped the shooting itself. It may have limited some of the damage.
DICKERSON: Let's step back. We're focused, as we have to be, on the specifics of this event and on the details of now this possible piece of legislation. What questions aren't we asking? What's the larger context here that we should be thinking about as we think about these issues?
WINKLER: Well, I think what we should be thinking about is a little less about mass shootings. You know, they get all of the attention with regards to the gun violence problem, but constitute only a small fraction of the casualties every year. You know, gun violence takes 33,000 lives and about 100,000 gunshot victims every year. This is mostly as the result of suicide and criminal misuse of guns, far short of mass shootings. Mass shootings are a problem that are very difficult to solve, but we can make some headway lowering the daily death toll from ordinary gun violence.
DICKERSON: In trying to do that in addressing either mass shootings or the daily toll that you talk about, the clash between rights heats up quickly. Is there a smarter way to think about it? I mean people get frustrated both by the rush to legislation and then, on the other side, the fact that there is no legislation that passes. Give us your sense from history how this can be addressed in a way that might be a little more effective.
WINKLER: Well, one thing we need to recognize first and foremost is that the Second Amendment is not what's preventing us from having good and effective gun control laws. The Second Amendment's been part of our Constitution and our heritage for a long time and does protect an individual's right to have guns for personal protection.
However, the courts have always held that gun control laws short of disarmament are constitutionally permissible. And indeed the Supreme Court only read the Second Amendment to provide an individual rights authoritatively in 2008. Clearly we had this gun problem in 2007 beforehand.
So the answer is not repealing the Second Amendment, as some have called for. I don't think that's the right way to think about it. Historically, we've always had the right to bear arms, but we've also always had gun control. What's happened is, we've lost that sense of balance, believing that we need to have either gun control or gun rights but can't have them both.
DICKERSON: In the case in which they found -- the Supreme Court found an individual right, Antonin Scalia is often quoted in that case saying that there -- there are limits. Is it -- is this really from the courts, given that the politics on this is so frozen, is this really something the Supreme Court needs to weigh in on or that the courts need to weigh in on to reach this balance that you're talking about?
WINKLER: Well, the courts won't reach the balance unless we go so. And why I say that, because the courts can't propose new gun control laws and they're not going to issue some kind of remedial order mandating Congress ban bump stocks. Congress has to take that initiative itself. And I feel many people are very disempowered in the gun debate today. They feel like nothing's going to change.
But I really do think it is a matter of electoral politics, that the NRA is a very, very strong fighting force, because there's a lot of single issue, pro-gun voters who support the NRA's candidates when they endorse them in primary and general elections. Gun control advocates who are frustrated probably need to focus a little bit more on mobilization, getting themselves more politically forceful so that they can combat the NRA and those single issue, pro-gun voters.
DICKERSON: Let me get your ruling on the question of concealed carry reciprocity. You heard the two views. What's -- what's the legal read of this and the federal legislation that's being proposed in the Senate?
WINKLER: Well, there's two different kinds of national reciprocity legislation. And we should keep them separate. The NRA is proposing a law that would allow, say, a Utah resident to come to California on tourism, for vacation or for business and carry their gun in accordance with that permit.
But there's also versions of reciprocity that are -- have been proposed in Congress that would allow a California resident to get a permit in Utah by online without over having -- going to Utah and then carrying the gun in California. That would completely undermine the self-determination and local control over concealed carry that states and cities have traditionally used. But -- so it depends on which version of reciprocity we're really talking about.
DICKERSON: Which has a better shot legally, do you think?
WINKLER: Well, I think actually legally it's much stronger for the NRA to propose a law that allows a Utah resident to come to California. Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce. I don't think there would be a significant Second Amendment problem with that.
It's a little bit more challenging to say that, as a matter of interstate commerce, Congress can mandate that California residents be able to get a permit somewhere else and carry those guns at home.
DICKERSON: All right, Adam Winkler, thank you so much for being with us.
And we'll be right back.
DICKERSON: We turn now to our politics panel.
Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief at "USA Today." Ramesh Ponnuru is the senior editor of "The National Review" and a columnist for "Bloomberg View." We're also joined by "New York Times" op-ed columnist David Leonhardt, and the editor in chief of "The Atlantic," Jeffrey Goldberg.
Jeffrey, I'm going to start with you.
This legislation -- we're going to go narrow first before we broaden out, but the legislation for bump fire stock in the Senate, what do you make of its prospects given the conversation we've had here between Senator Feinstein and Wayne LaPierre, who seems to want it not to go through Congress?
JEFFREY GOLDBERG, THE ATLANTIC: Well, my -- I will start out -- I will immediately go wide and note that the pattern, generally speaking after massacres, gun massacres in America, is to loosen gun laws, not to tighten gun restrictions. Given the dysfunctional Senate, given everything else, given what we know about the way this has been polling, I don't have much hope for -- I wouldn't have much hope if I were a supporter of that.
I mean the broader -- the broader point is that it's, again, probably mainly in the realm of a symbolic gesture toward a solution. We always talk about these issues way at the margins. I admire Fran Townsend's position on large ammo clips, but that -- that is not the root cause of our problem here. These technical issues, which are also surmountable by garage -- home garage mechanics, these are not going to deal -- these don't deal with what we're talking about.
DICKERSON: Ramesh, part of what politically has happened is there is, as they pointed out at FiveThirtyEight, there is no better predictor of your position, not gender, not race, not -- than if you own a gun, in terms of whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. That this has become cultural beyond the specifics of, you know, ammo clips or bump fire stocks.
RAMESH PONNURU, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, it is a polarizing issue, but it's also an issue on which all the intensity is on one side of the debate. That is, there are a lot more people who vote solely on the basis of guns, who are pro-gun, and skeptical of regulation, than are on the other side. And one of the reasons you have that lack of intensity on the side of people who want the regulations is that so few of the regulations would plausibly make any difference. So, you know, as Jeff was suggesting, the types of things that we can think about doing, like an assault weapons ban, won't make much of a difference. And the things that might make a difference would be really extreme things like gun confiscation that would raise their own set of tremendous practical problems. And that leaves us at an impasse.
DICKERSON: Susan, what do you think in terms of the Democratic Party having to keep this -- this intensity up? And I also piggyback a question that which is, that according to Gallup, one in four Democrats support concealed carry laws. Do you think it's a litmus test in the Democratic Party? In other words, if you support concealed carry, does that run you out of the Democratic Party now?
SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: You know, the Democrats have quite a few litmus tests and I would say there are others litmus tests that come become this particular litmus test.
And I actually thought the most shocking thing politically about this terrible -- and the aftermath of this terrible and unprecedented shooting is that we are not at all shocked that it is not likely that anything will happen, that our government is likely to do nothing in response to this, to pass no additional gun laws, and that they will have the same old tired debate we've had before.
And one reason is just plain politics. That if you have six Democratic senators running for reelection in states that Trump carried, that are red states, they are not going to be enthusiastic about taking on this issue. So you end up just saying, you know, it's only been days, but does anyone expect anything to happen?
DICKERSON: David, what do you make of the argument that gun control activists, and many different people have put forward, which is essentially after the San Bernardino shooting, candidate Donald Trump called for a Muslim ban and then suggested profiling Muslims might be an idea. So his argument was, we can -- we can impinge upon rights for the purposes of safety. Yet gun control activists felt like when they talked about trying to limit the rights of the Second Amendment for the purposes of safety, they were criticized for politicizing things. How -- how -- give me your sense of those arguments.
DAVID LEONHARDT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think one of the things -- I am as pessimistic about gun control legislation passing as everyone else here, or optimist for the sake of gun rights advocates.
But I do think this debate has shifted a little bit. And I think we saw in the quakes of Las Vegas that we immediately went to the policy conversation. And in the past there were gun control advocates who actually did hold back a little bit and listen to this, don't politicize the tragedy. And I think they now feel like these mass shootings are happening often enough that it is OK to immediately go out -- you saw members of Congress do it -- and say, we need to do things. That doesn't mean things are going to happen. But I do actually think, this -- this particular episode has moved the debate ever so slightly to the left, where you see the NRA having to admit some openness to regulation and you immediately see the policy discussion.
DICKERSON: All right. We're going to pivot from that policy discussion to some other news of the week.
Susan, what is your sense of what's happening with the secretary of state and his boss?
PAGE: I don't think this marriage can be saved. I think calling your boss a moron is probably a firing offense in any workplace. And especially when your boss is as sensitive to criticism as Donald Trump. I think --
DICKERSON: They called me a moron regularly, Susan.
PAGE: Yes, well --
GOLDBERG: Yes, CBS is much more forgiving than the Trump administration.
PAGE: And the -- I mean -- and it's not as though Rex Tillerson now has defenders in any other sector among the foreign policy specialists, among -- I mean he's been completely undercut.
You know, it's -- here's a remarkable thing. You know, it was -- it was one-week ago almost to this moment that Donald Trump tweeted that it was ridiculous for Rex Tillerson to go -- engage in diplomacy with North Korea, cutting the legs off Tillerson. And then we find out that even prior to that Tillerson referred to him as a moron. In what world does this man continue to be secretary of state?
GOLDBERG: He was cutting his legs off unless you believe that they were playing bad cop, good cop, except that nobody believes that because --
DICKERSON: Explain that to the people, though.
GOLDBERG: Well, in other words, it's the Nixon madman theory, Kissinger goes to the Chinese and say, I'd like to make a deal with you but my boss is crazy. But -- but that whole madman theory of diplomacy is predicated on the idea that the madman isn't actually mad.
If Tillerson and Trump had a -- had a functional relationship, you could see one playing a tougher role and one playing a softer role. But, here, all the reporting is suggesting that they just don't like each other. And so it's not a coordinated, diplomatic gambit to get the Chinese to do x or the North Koreans to do y.
PAGE: Also, I don't think you can have a madman theory work if you're actually trying to negotiate with a madman in North Korea. I think that makes it quite dangerous. DICKERSON: Ramesh, you wrote -- or you said, I believe that Tillerson was probably doomed to failure once he couldn't pick his own deputy. What did you mean by that?
PONNURU: Well, he reportedly wanted to have Elliott Abrams be the deputy secretary of state, and that was vetoed by the White House because Abrams had been critical -- or had been perceived to be highly critical of Trump after he won the Indiana primary. And I think that if you can't staff your own team, you can't pick your highest level people, your effectiveness is just limited.
It is -- we have had many secretaries of state who have had difficult relationships with presidents. We've had secretaries of state who don't enjoy the confidence of the State Department staff.
This is a secretary of state who's got both problems. And that leaves him, as Susan was suggesting, without a constituency. And it's not just a question of, can he keep on in this job. It's also a question of what good is he doing in this job?
LEONHARDT: And it's particularly worrisome right now because of what we see in the rest of the word. I mean we need the State Department on North Korea and Iran precisely because it's a moment where diplomacy has the opportunity to cool some of these deeply worrisome global hotspots.
DICKERSON: Well, that's right. And Senator Corker, this week, David, said that Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis and Chief of Staff Kelly are all that separate our country from chaos.
DICKERSON: So -- which is a pretty extraordinary thing for a chairman of the Senate foreign Relations Committee to say.
PAGE: And he got a -- he got an offer to walk it back, and he declined to walk it back. He stuck with it. And then we see tweets this morning from the president that -- blasting Corker, who, let's remind ourselves, is the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
DICKERSON: Ramesh, blasting him saying, this from the president, Senator Bob Corker quote/unquote begged me to endorse him for reelection in Tennessee. I said, no, and he dropped out.
Do you want to antagonize your Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman with fifteen and a half months to go in the job?
PONNURU: Well, that will certainly teach Senator Corker to raise doubts about Trump's fitness for office, won't it?
Look, it is no, I think, a strategic play by the president. I think it is a pure frustration move that he saw Senator Corker saying critical things and he does what he does, which is lash back, regardless of whether it serves any particular interest. DICKERSON: Jeffrey, two things that I'd like to get your view on. The president said that there's just one thing to do in North Korea, presumably, meaning military.
DICKERSON: How do you read that? And then, secondarily, there's also reports that the president will decertify Iran in terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Right. So these are both linked -- these are inextricably linked. One would think that when you're in a nuclear confrontation with a potential madman, you wouldn't want to open up a whole other can of worms with another potential nuclear power, another rogue state, Iran. You'd like to sequence this.
Furthermore, if you decertify the Iran deal right now, you are suggesting to not only our allies but rogue states and North Korea, in particular, that America will not hold to nuclear agreements. There's a very, very slim chance, obviously, we get to a nuclear agreement with North Korea. This brings it down to zero.
So we're at a very strange moment. And we're also at a moment when the president appears to be bluffing. And the rule of American president -- the American presidency in these areas is that you don't bluff. Whenever you bluff, it usually turns out to be a disaster for the United States. If he's not bluffing and he's saying that we're going to war with North Korea soon, well, that's another whole issue.
But, to me, the biggest single question is not what any of us think about that kind of statement, it's -- it's, how are the North Koreans interpreting this? We don't understand how they think and we don't understand what they understand and don't understand about our system. This is, again, one of -- this is a case in which Twitter -- an errant tweet can lead to a nuclear exchange.
DICKERSON: David, let me switch to domestic efforts. The president called Chuck Schumer, tried to -- or tweeted about, anyway, that he's trying to make a deal with Chuck Schumer on health care. Senator Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate said, if it's repeal and replace, there's no conversation. The president's going to issue an executive order this week. What's he up to on health care, do you think?
LEONHARDT: I find it worrisome. So it's highly technical. But basically what it looks like executive order is going to let people do is buy into something sort -- called association health plans. And those would be relatively unregulated. So they could basically offer bare bones insurance that wouldn't cover things like giving birth, that wouldn't cover certain illnesses.
And so what you then have -- would have is healthy people would buy that kind of insurance, driving up the price of insurance for all of the sick people who remain. It is what Andy Slavitt, who used to run Medicare, has called synthetic repeal. It is a step to try to undermine the health insurance market in this back door way through executive orders. And I find it quite worrisome.
DICKERSON: So, Ramesh, the idea is basically repeal and -- it's just repeal? And no replace? Is that -- is that the way you see this?
PONNURU: Well, I think that the Obama administration handed a lot of tools to the Trump administration in this regard because they did things like hand out all these hardship exemptions, for example, to the individual mandate. That precedent can now be relied upon by the Trump administration to hand out more such exemptions and neuter the individual mandate. So there are a range of regulatory actions that the Trump administration can take, either to undermine Obamacare, to try to maybe force the Democrats to the table. I'm sure that that is one of the things that they're thinking about when they contemplate these actions.
DICKERSON: And, finally, Susan, on the question -- a Democratic question. Harvey Weinstein, given a lot of money to Democrats. "The New York Times" blockbuster story this week about a pattern of sexual abuse from him. Does this put the Democrats in a spot given how much money he's given to the party and is there something Democratic officials have to do to get under -- to get out of that spot?
PAGE: I -- I think it -- I think it does. I think that if you're going to criticize President Trump for his remarks in the "Access Hollywood" tape, if you've taken money from Harvey Weinstein, you ought to give it to a charity or give it back to him or get it out of your campaign coffers. And you've seen several Democrats doing that. And it's been interesting.
You know, this is -- this is a political problem, but it's a cultural shift. We've seen that in politics. We've seen it in business. We've seen it in the news media, that behavior that's gone on for decades is now unacceptable and women are increasingly willing to speak up about it.
DICKERSON: All right. And that's the last word.
Thanks to all of you for being here.
And we'll be back in one moment.
DICKERSON: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching.
Join us next Sunday when astronaut Scott Kelly joins us to discuss "Endurance," stories from his record-breaking year in space.
Until then, for FACE THE NATION, I'm John Dickerson.
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