When Democratic Rep. Jim Moran (Va.) promoted his new gun control bill on CNN Wednesday, anchor Victor Blackwell spoonfed him a talking point from the anti-gun Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). Moran then claimed Congress would have blood on its hands if it didn't take action on guns.
Asking Moran about his bill's five measures, Blackwell simply prompted him with poll numbers that MAIG touted earlier this summer: "You picked these five because there's a poll over the summer by a GOP pollster that says that these are not only things that are mildly supported by NRA members, but they are in the 60, 70, 80 percentile of support from the membership."
"That's exactly right. These are common sense gun safety measures," Moran responded. GOP pollster Frank Luntz, conducted the poll, but Luntz also polls for Mayors Against Illegal Guns – a fact CNN didn't acknowledge.
Moran went on to claim that Congress would share the guilt of future massacres if it didn't take action and pass his bill:
"And we're going to do what we can up here on the Hill, who believe that young, innocent children shouldn't be slaughtered because we have failed to do our job. It really does seem we're at the point that if the Congress fails to do anything, particularly in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, that we are complicit in further massacres of innocent people because we haven't made sufficient effort to even do what the majority of NRA members would be willing to do."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on December 26 on CNN Newsroom at 2:54 p.m. EST, is as follows:
VICTOR BLACKWELL: Congressman Jim Moran says there is a disconnect between the National Rifle Association leadership and the NRA members. The Democrat from Virginia is pushing a package of gun reforms he says most NRA members support. And Representative Moran joins me now live from Washington. Sir, it is good to have you with us.
Rep. JIM MORAN (D-Va.): It's good to be with you. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Congressman, when many politicians think about the NRA, they think about this legion of people who stand shoulder to shoulder with Wayne LaPierre and the leadership and what he says they believe. You believe, though, that the NRA leadership is out of touch with the membership. Why?
MORAN: Well this bill that we're introducing on the first session of the next Congress has five measures, where two-thirds of NRA membership support them. In fact, in some cases, one of them is supported by 79 percent of NRA members. So I do think there's a disconnect between the NRA members and the gun manufacturers who basically pay the salaries of the NRA leadership. But what this would do is to require background checks, not only for gun purchasers but for gun shop employees. It would require that people who are on the terrorist watch list not be able to buy firearms or explosives.
The GAO just did a study that showed that 1,321 people on the Terrorist Watchlist attempted to buy firearms and explosives, and in 91 percent of the cases, the FBI was powerless to stop them. It would also require that if you're going to get a concealed carry permit, that you have certain minimum requirements like age and some training lessons. And in addition, it would say that you would have to report within 48 hours if your gun is lost or stolen. 600,000 guns are stolen from private homes every year. So this is basically the lowest-hanging fruit. It's really ripe for legislative passage, and I would hope it might get some traction.
BLACKWELL: You picked these five because there's a poll over the summer by a GOP pollster that says that these are not only things that are mildly supported by NRA members, but they are in the 60, 70, 80 percentile of support from the membership.
MORAN: That's exactly right. These are common sense gun safety measures. I think it would give some greater credibility to the NRA to support what the vast majority of its membership is willing to do. I don't expect them to, but I would hope we'd get some bipartisan support for this common sense measure. It's not going to solve the problem. It's not going to put an end to the mayhem and the massacres, but it will be progress. And we're going to do what we can up here on the Hill, who believe that young, innocent children shouldn't be slaughtered because we have failed to do our job. It really does seem we're at the point that if the Congress fails to do anything, particularly in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, that we are complicit in further massacres of innocent people because we haven't made sufficient effort to even do what the majority of NRA members would be willing to do.
BLACKWELL: Let me jump in here, Congressman. Because although your polling here that you've gotten from your GOP pollster says that these are things that NRA members will support, the leadership, when it comes to 2014 and the primaries, they will be the ones who will drop the hammer if there are people who vote in support of this. If they're Republicans who vote against what the NRA says they should or should not happen. Right? So the leadership will be the ones that will divvy up the money to attack some of these Republicans in Congress, right? So isn't that really the important part of the conversation?
MORAN: Well, I do think that that's been the problem. Certainly up to now, it's been the political intimidation that they really will go after you if you cross the NRA leadership. Also, the people who are in the majority in the Congress, 51 percent of them get money from the NRA. But I think the main leverage that they have is this political intimidation. But somehow we have to stand up to it. What's the point of saving your political career if it means the loss of such innocent lives as were massacred at Sandy Hook and will continue to be if we don't take action? There's going to be a line where we're willing to draw, and we have to ask ourselves, is our political career of greater value than the lives of those young children?