Matt Lauer Implores: ‘People Across This Country’ Want ‘Real Change’ on Gun Control

After celebrating House Democrats’ overnight publicity stunt to push gun control, on Thursday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer pleaded with Congress to take action: “If you look at the polls...people across this country say they want more than a moment of silence after a mass shooting, they want some real change.”

He fretted that the sit-in protest by liberal lawmakers would not be enough to force through the anti-gun agenda: “But does this bring about anything other than a little discussion on a morning show for one day?” MSNBC legal analyst Ari Melber replied: “I think it's a great question and I think the real truth is we don't know the answer yet.”

Melber proceeded to highlight the perspectives from both sides of the aisle:

We heard from some members of Congress last night, comparing this, as John Lewis did, to the civil rights struggle and how many big moments there were before you changed public opinion and government conduct. Again, though, Republicans saying, “Look, you didn't win enough seats to get these votes. You don't control the House. You want to control what the votes are held on? Win an election and you'll control the House.” So we heard both sides of that, but this was certainly an unusual late night on the Hill.

Earlier in the exchange, fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie urged Republicans to cave: “What's the strategy here? For Republicans, if they're [Democrats] going to fail, why not just give them a vote and say, ‘Well, you had your vote and you didn't have enough support’?” Melber rightly explained: “...as remarkable as it was, breaking House rules, streaming viral overnight, you don't want, as the Speaker of the House in either party, to set a precedent where you give in to protests and hand over control of the calendar, which is one of the Speaker's unitary most important prerogatives.”

Here is a full transcript of the June 23 segment:

7:05 AM ET

MATT LAUER: Let’s bring in MSNBC’s Ari Melber. Ari, good morning to you.

ARI MELBER: Good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Gun Control Legislation a Reality? Dems Hold Sit-In on House Floor in Protest]

LAUER: It’s a cliff hanger, you know? The Republicans wanted to shut down the House and head home for a holiday break. The Democrats want nothing to do with this. Can you compare this to anything?

MELBER: This is truly unprecedented. There was wrangling over a committee hearing about 13 years ago, where Capitol Police were called, but nothing like this. When we see civil disobedience or sit-ins, we usually think of citizens against the government not government officials against each other.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: It is interesting, too, because the two measures that the Democrats want to vote on are measures that were voted on in the Senate and failed. What's the strategy here? For Republicans, if they're going to fail, why not just give them a vote and say, “Well, you had your vote and you didn't have enough support”?

MELBER: Two reasons. Number one, Republicans don't want to put up necessarily a tough vote for their members if they don't have to. And number two, once this began, as remarkable as it was, breaking House rules, streaming viral overnight, you don't want, as the Speaker of the House in either party, to set a precedent where you give in to protests and hand over control of the calendar, which is one of the Speaker's unitary most important prerogatives.

LAUER: If you look at the polls, Ari, people across this country say they want more than a moment of silence after a mass shooting, they want some real change. But does this bring about anything other than a little discussion on a morning show for one day?

MELBER: I think it's a great question and I think the real truth is we don't know the answer yet. We heard from some members of Congress last night, comparing this, as John Lewis did, to the civil rights struggle and how many big moments there were before you changed public opinion and government conduct. Again, though, Republicans saying, “Look, you didn't win enough seats to get these votes. You don't control the House. You want to control what the votes are held on? Win an election and you'll control the House.” So we heard both sides of that, but this was certainly an unusual late night on the Hill.

LAUER: Alright, Ari Melber. Ari, thank you very much. Good to see you.


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