Scarborough Claims 'Extreme Gerrymandering' Helping NRA Defy 90% of U.S.

On Thursday's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough was again hitting the gun control issue from the left as he railed against the NRA for supposedly having too much power, and managed to work in another pet liberal concern as he ranted against "extreme gerrymandering" allegedly being to blame. 

Fellow MSNBC conservative Charlie Sykes also came on board to join in on the NRA bashing: "This is an organization that has taken the most extreme, absolute position on everything. I've tangled with them, and their position is basically: Do not give an inch on anything. Common sense solutions which may make sense to 90 percent of the voters, when it comes up against this, you know, the NRA ideology, stands no chance."

And for his part, regular MSNBC panel member Mike Barnicle recommended not only requiring gun registration, but mandating that people purchase insurance to be allowed to own a gun.



It was at about 8:42 a.m ET that Scarborough brought up a gerrymandering case from Wisconsin that is being taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court and then tied in the often-cited dubious polls that claim 90 percent of Americans want universal background checks for all gun purchases:

The concept of one person, one vote, actually is under attack by this extreme gerrymandering. And what's a better example than the fact that 90 percent of Americans support background checks, and yet you can't find one Republican elected official on Capitol Hill elected in those gerrymandered districts -- not one -- maybe, maybe Peter King on Long Island, maybe one or two. But the vast majority, overwhelming majority don't support a position that 90 percent of Americans support, which I think is one of the best examples of how these gerrymandered districts get in the way of legitimate representation.

But the 90 percent number has been called into question by polling which actually informs respondents that background checks already apply to most gun show purchases. Additionally, when the public got to vote on a ballot initiative for a similar measure in Nevada, it just barely passed with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote in a state usually won by Democrats in presidential elections -- a far cry from the often-cited 90 percent support number.

Scarborough's claim that Republicans would be more willing to support new gun laws in the absence of congressional gerrymandering is also very questionable as he did not address the recent difficulty of passing gun laws in the U.S. Senate -- which does not undergo redistricting at all. When the Manchin-Toomey proposal was voted on by the Senate in 2013, all four Democrats who crossed party lines and voted against it were from reliably red states while three of the four Republicans who crossed party lines to vote in favor of more gun control were from states that had been reliably blue for decades.

States that have typically been competitive like Florida, Ohio, and Iowa saw members from both parties vote with their own parties, so having evenly divided states politically did little to make members more likely to desert the party line on the issue.

MSNBC contributor Mike Lupica responded by claiming that the NRA is a "branch of the government." Lupica:

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Well, there's one branch of the government that never has a problem with gerrymandering, and that's the National Rifle Association. And, Joe, there's this bindlestiff notion now that the NRA isn't as powerful as the left wants you to believe. It makes your head explode every time you hear in the aftermath of Vegas, "This isn't the day to talk about gun control." You always went to say to those people, "Pick a day. You pick that day, and then we'll have this conversation." 

He added:

And the idea now that they're going to rouse themselves to action on bump stocks, that is putting a band-aid on a broken leg. There's so much more that could be done because, Joe, how does anybody think that the laws we have are working in this country?

Moments later, Scarborough again complained that the NRA is responsible for Republicans supposedly defying the will of 90 percent of Americans:

The NRA obviously is very strong. They've contributed millions and millions of dollars not only to Donald Trump but to a lot of Republicans, but most of their power -- I believe at least -- comes from the fact that you do have gerrymandered districts that are cut up in such a way that that 10 percent that doesn't support background checks, the 35 percent that doesn't support a limitation on assault-style weapons, those voices are become far more dominant because these gerrymandered districts actually are cut up in a way where their voices in a primary are paramount.

Barnicle soon jumped in with idea of requiring gun owners to purchase insurance:

When you have children about to drive a car, you have to pay an extra premium on your insurance. If you want to buy a gun -- a handgun, a long gun -- if you want to buy 49 of them, feel free. But you're also going to have to buy an insurance policy -- minimum of, say, 25 grand to cover the legal costs when you end up getting in a gun accident. If you don't buy the insurance policy, you don't get the gun. Let's do that.

No consideration was given for poor people who might live in crime-ridden areas who cannot afford to purchase insurance for the right to protect themselves from criminals.

Sykes soon jumped in to add his own gripes about the NRA:

You cannot overstate the thrall with which the NRA, you know, controls the GOP. There's no question about it. And that's why I'm skeptical about this bump stock ban. They may talk about it -- my home state Senator Ron Johnson said he's open to it -- well, just give that a few minutes. We'll see when finally the NRA comes -- when they come out of the bunker and basically explain, "Look, we've built our brand on absolutism."

After Scarborough could be heard agreeing, "Yeah," Sykes continued:

This is an organization that has taken the most extreme, absolute position on everything. I've tangled with them, and their position is basically: Do not give an inch on anything. Common sense solutions which may make sense to 90 percent of the voters, when it comes up against this, you know, the NRA ideology, stands no chance.

Not mentioned was that the NRA did support the idea of creating an instant background check system in the 1990s, although they opposed a five-day waiting period.

Scarborough jumped back in and complained about Florida law allowing people to carry guns to work:

If you hold the positions that George W. Bush held, that Ronald Reagan held, on background checks, again, there is this absolutism, this extremism as you said, sort of this cultural signaling that says you can't even be -- I mean, in Florida, they passed laws where you can take guns to work. So if you get upset at somebody you're working with, you know, sure, you can bring a handgun in to work, and nobody can say anything about it. That's, again, they're pushing the boundaries.

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