WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) joined CBS’s Face the Nation and Fox News’ Fox & Friends to highlight the work the Republican Congress did to strengthen the existing background check system for gun purchases with the Fix NICS Act, and to call for more resources for the FBI and law enforcement to prevent mass shootings before they occur. Whip Scalise then condemned attempts by Democrat politicians to assign blame for these shootings to President Donald Trump and his supporters. As he knows from personal experience, the only ones responsible for these senseless acts of terrorism are the gunmen themselves.
Click here or on the image above to watch the interview.
Transcribed remarks from CBS’s Face the Nation:
On President Trump’s call for action from Congress to prevent mass shootings:
“First of all, I have supported [President Trump] on that. In fact, we got a bill to President Trump’s desk last year, the Fix NICS bill, which truly does go after some of the real problems we saw where people were falling through the cracks and not getting into the background check system, like so many shootings, like Charleston, like others.
“The President said he wants to make sure, especially, that people with mental illnesses don’t get guns. In fact, there were a lot of people that we were finding that weren’t getting put into the system. We need to keep working on that and make the background check system work better. We passed a very bipartisan bill to do just that, and Donald Trump signed it into law just last year. Let’s focus on making that work better, so a lot of these people that slip through the cracks don’t slip through the cracks again or in future attempts where they might try to do that.”
On flawed background check proposals from Democrats that would not prevent shootings and only penalize law-abiding citizens:
“Let’s see what bills are being brought forward. I know what Nancy Pelosi called for the Senate to come back and vote on was a bill that they passed through the House, or two bills, that wouldn’t have actually done anything to stop these shootings because the shooters in both, in El Paso and in Dayton, passed background checks. Her bill wouldn’t apply to them, but her bill is very dangerous in a number of ways because of how it stops law-abiding people from being able to transfer guns, including if you loan your gun to your neighbor because she’s afraid that her ex-boyfriend is going to come and beat her up. You loaning your gun to her would put you in prison for up to a year. That’s what Pelosi’s bill does. It wouldn’t have stopped the shootings, but actually makes it harder for law-abiding citizens to do things that are currently legal, and, frankly, currently helping improve safety.”
On making domestic terrorism a federal crime:
“I do, and, in fact, I applaud what’s being done both at the FBI and with our new Acting Homeland Security Secretary. In his first week in office, he put in place a task force to go look at a lot of the online recruiting that’s going on to radicalize people. We’re seeing a very alarming increase in domestic terrorism. The FBI has been focused on that.
“Last month alone, they saw it was in the hundreds, the number of domestic terrorism cases that they’re looking at. We need to make sure that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have the tools they need to go and root out, whether it’s white supremacists, whether it’s radicals from the left, that are committing some of these crimes. We need to make sure that they have the tools they need to root it out.”
On improving the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) and the FBI’s ability to prevent domestic terrorism:
“If you look at what the FBI just set up recently and what the Homeland Security Secretary just did recently to put a renewed focus on this, to put a new focus on what’s going on online, the recruiting that we all know has been going on online. They’re actually focusing on it. They do need more tools. They’ve asked for more resources. We have a budget process that’s coming up when we return in September. Let’s make sure that in the budget process that is a very high priority because right now it’s not a high enough priority. We need to make sure it is.”
On only assigning blame for these shootings to the people that commit the crime:
“My heart breaks as everybody’s does when you see what happened. There’s no place for it, whether it’s somebody that’s racist that hates a certain ethnic group. There’s no place for those kinds of attacks and attacking people based on their ethnicity. But to try to assign blame to somebody else, I think, is a very slippery slope because the President’s no more responsible for that shooting as your next guest, Bernie Sanders, is for my shooting. And [Bernie Sanders] is not, by the way, responsible. The shooter is responsible.
“What we need to do is find those people that have slipped through the cracks. We’ve seen it in shooting after shooting, Sutherland Springs, Charleston, even in Dayton. He had a hit list and a rape list and yet none of that was in the system. Let’s make sure these background check systems work properly and are rooting out the people that shouldn’t be able to legally purchase a gun, but currently are because the system hasn’t worked.”
“Well, first of all, the President was very clear just the other day that there’s no place for this. He spoke out against racism. He spoke out against these kinds of attacks. And so, to try to assign blame, you know, go look at some of these presidential candidates who made some of the most ridiculous statements. I mean, Joe Biden just said that he was Vice President when the Parkland kids came and met with him. He wasn’t Vice President. You know, so some of these things that are being said are beyond ridiculous.
“I know they’re running for president, and they might not like Donald Trump’s views, but stop this ridiculous assignment of blame to somebody other than the person who’s responsible. And again, you know, you talk to other people who were motivators. Look at the Dayton shooter and what his motivations were. Is anybody asking about that? Anybody from the left who he was inspired by? There’s no place for it.
“The shooter’s responsible. Let’s try to identify these shooters in a better way, which right now we’re working on doing. Let’s put more emphasis there.”
On Democrats’ failure to address gun violence despite claims that it is a top priority for the Party:
“The NRA has millions of supporters and people that are actual members just like any other group that can advocate for an issue. They’re advocating for something that’s in the United States Constitution, the Second Amendment. But let’s look at some of the things that Michael Bloomberg has talked about. You know, he says he wants a better background check system, yet every single person that he defeated last year, that he spent over about $100 million of his money to defeat, voted to fix the background check system last year. What’s his real motivation? I mean he literally spent about a $100 million of his money for members of Congress who voted ‘yes’ to fix the background check system and close the background check system loopholes. Again, I mean, I’m sure he says certain things, but what is his real motivation when he spent that much money to defeat people who voted to fix the system?
“By the way, Margaret, name one single bill that Nancy Pelosi put on Barack Obama’s desk when they had the House, Senate, and the White House to address any of these issues. There was not one bill she put on his desk.
“We put a bill on Donald Trump’s desk last year to fix the NICS system, the background check system, and he signed it into law and is actually working to make it address those loopholes, the people that fell through the cracks. He banned bump stocks, which were used in the Las Vegas shooting. Those by the way were legalized when Barack Obama was president. Donald Trump is the one who said, ‘This shouldn’t happen.’ He banned bump stocks, and they’re not legal anymore.”
Transcribed remarks from Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
On the work Congress has done to improve background checks:
“Well, you know, if you look at where we start with the red flag laws. There have definitely been some due process concerns that have been raised. Even in Connecticut when Sandy Hook happened, they had a red flag law on the books. Let’s focus on actually what we can do to solve the problem and Congress has passed some things. Everybody wants to act like there’s been nothing done. There are over hundreds, at least, of gun laws on the books.
“We just last year passed the Fix NICS bill. This is a bill that really went to the heart of a lot of the problems with the background check system, where you had people falling through the cracks, people with mental illnesses. You look at the Parkland shooting where he was going around telling people, ‘I’m going to be a professional school shooter.’ The FBI had a file on him and decided not to follow it up. We need to fix those problems, and make sure that the bad people that we identify… In over 80% of mass shootings, somebody knew they were going to do it beforehand and, in many cases, alerted law enforcement or somebody else, and nothing was done.
“I think that’s really what drives people crazy. Congress did come together on the Fix NICS bill. President Trump signed it into law by the way, and also President Trump did ban bump stocks. That’s what was used in Las Vegas. It was Barack Obama who legalized bump stocks. It was Donald Trump who said, ‘No, we’re going to stop this,’ and it’s now banned.”
On condemning Democrats’ attempt to assign blame to President Trump and his supporters for the recent mass shootings:
“And what’s [Rep. Joaquin Castro’s] real objective? Of course, ironically, there were some people he put on that list that also contributed to him. So what is he really suggesting? When you see people trying to personalize and blame somebody else other than the shooter, that’s the real concern I have.
“Look, you saw almost every presidential candidate immediately trying to assign blame to Donald Trump. …First of all, even in my shooting, nobody was to blame but the shooter. Clearly it was politically motivated, but whoever was the motivation that the shooter used is not to blame. It’s the shooter that’s to blame. We shouldn’t have other people, especially politicians that have their own agenda, trying to immediately after a shooting, instead of praying for the victims and trying to find out what really happened, they are trying to propose and talk about their bill that they filed and promote their political agenda. There’s no place for that.”
On the importance of giving law enforcement the tools they need to stop shootings before they occur:
“I think you’ve got to look at the people that are working to really solve the problem. Look at the Department of Homeland Security. Literally, in his first week, the new acting secretary put together a task force to focus on a lot of the recruiting that’s being done, and the radicalization that’s being done online on social media, where they’re literally trying to go and find people and they’re being successful, unfortunately, at growing and kind of brewing this homegrown domestic terrorism. We need to focus more on rooting that out. The FBI, actually, has been focusing some new resources there. Let’s make sure they’ve got the tools they need because again, the telltale signs are there too many times before a mass shooting and nothing’s done about it. After, they say, ‘Let’s go in and limit the rights of law-abiding citizens.’”