A GOP strategist told MSNBC host Richard Lui on Wednesday that even though they enjoy popular support, stringent background checks for gun owners have been proven as ineffective by mass shootings like the one against former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).
“We already have the Brady Bill, and it didn’t stop what happened to Gabrielle Giffords,” Chris Wilson said, referring to the 2011 attack in which six other people were shot and killed. “It didn’t stop [other mass shootings], and it just really isn’t going to have an overall impact from that standpoint. It’s not all that relevant.”
MSNBC analyst Karen Finney wasted no time responding to Wilson’s argument.
“The problem I have with that argument is that one of the key things that the NRA has blocked over the last several years is research,” Finney said. “So we don’t actually have an accurate picture of what has or hasn’t been prevented.”
According to the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, the bill, which became law in 1994, has prevented 2 million “high-risk” people from being able to buy firearms because of the background check requirement. Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, are featured in a new series of ads funded by her super PAC airing in Arizona and Iowa urging support for stricter background checks on gun sales.
Finney also referenced the Feb. 27 argument between Milwaukee, Wisconsin police chief Edward A. Flynn and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“I want to stop 76,000 people from buying guns illegally,” Flynn told Graham. “That’s what a background check does. If you think we’re going to do paperwork prosecutions, you’re wrong.”
Wilson sidestepped that argument and instead repeated the gun industry’s call for enhanced mental health checks, saying it would stop “lunatics like the ones who identified Giffords are identified and treated.”
Mental health professionals in New York state have already criticized a law passed on Jan. 15 requiring them to report patients they feel could become violent, saying the warning signs are often too subtle to be readily identified.
Wilson also insisted that more stringent mental health checks was supported by “twice as many Americans” as background checks, but did not name a source for that figure.
“The situation here is, liberals don’t like guns, they don’t like people who have guns, so they feel they’ve got to do something about it, whether it has an effect or not,” he said, which prompted another rebuttal from Kinney.
“You don’t get to speak for all quote-unquote ‘liberals’ and say, ‘People don’t like guns,'” she said. “Gabby Giffords is a Democrat, her husband is a Democrat, they are gun owners. I know plenty of Democrats and quote-unquote ‘liberals’ who are gun owners. We just believe that, as [Justice Antonin] Scalia himself has said, ‘There are responsibilities that come with our rights.'”
Watch Finney’s debate with Wilson, aired Wednesday on MSNBC, below.