Anderson Cooper recently interviewed GOP Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) about his opposition to expanding background checks on gun sales. Risch is one of the fourteen Republican Senators who threatened to filibuster the proposed new gun background check law, and he’s the only one who had the courage to go on TV to talk about it.
Risch is a walking NRA talking point, which is typical for Republicans, but especially ones from Idaho. GOP politicians love their guns, especially in Idaho, unless you bring a gun to their workplace, legally, then they kinda sorta freak out. Idaho Republicans are more likely to ban vaginas than to ban guns.
In spite of Risch’s grotesque repetition of the NRA talking points that guns should be kept out of the hands of criminals and crazy people, Cooper did a masterful job of turning that talking point around on him. In essence saying, if you’re so intent on keep guns out of the hands of crazy people, then let’s have background checks to find them. Oh no, Risch said, we can’t have that. If we expand background checks to, say, private ma and pa gun sellers who sell them to a friend or a relative, that will mean we’ll be doing background checks on innocent people!
Forget for a moment that innocent people go through background checks all the time when they buy guns. But suddenly in this case it’s a horror of all horrors to have innocent people get a background check. Cooper honed in on another point, which was, how do you know they’re innocent people if you refuse to subject them to a background check?
ANDERSON COOPER: Why not control a relative selling a gun to a relative, or a friend selling a gun to a friend? Why not have a background check?
GOP SENATOR RISCH (R-ID): The thing that really bothers me is, number one it doesn’t work, and number two it places the burden on law-abiding citizens. The person who’s gonna use a gun for illegal purposes is not gonna go through the background check system.
Right, so they’ll use the loophole they’re building in to the new law instead, and buy the guy from a friend or relative.
Anderson tries again:
ANDERSON COOPER: But how do you know that somebody’s a law-abiding citizen, and who’s buying a gun from a relative, if they haven’t gone through a background check?
Oh but it gets better:
ANDERSON COOPER: From a logic standpoint, how do you know if they’re a criminal, or have a serious mental issue, if you’re not doing any kind of check, if their relative who is an idiot decides to sell them a weapon or their friend decides to sell them a weapon? If nobody’s checking, how do you know they’re a good guy or bad guy?
GOP SENATOR RISCH (R-ID): Well, there’s no question that by expanding the background check, you will pick up some more of those people.
Okay, then let’s do it, skippy!
The video is below, it’s about five minutes long. Tommy Christopher over at Mediaite has a wonderful write-up of the exchange that’s worth a read. It’s funny as hell.