Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) On Red Flag Laws: “Let’s Get Better About Closing Loopholes”

On the heels of the El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH mass shootings, House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise shares his thoughts on gun control and red flag laws.

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Full Transcript:

Guy Benson Final hour of the week here on The Guy Benson show. Happy Friday to you. for all of the info plus we post some of our biggest interviews at the website. You can also subscribe to our podcast through or on iTunes. Joining me now on the phone is our friend House Republican Whip Congressman Steve Scalise a Republican of Louisiana. Congressman great to have you back.

Rep. Steve Scalise Great to be back with you.

Guy Benson Before we delve into more serious subjects it is now August which means that we are oh so close tantalizingly close to college football how are you feeling about your Tigers this year.

Rep. Steve Scalise Go tigers I’ll tell you what… With better play, a quarterback, I think our team’s going to be even better than last year and we finished really strong coach built us built a really good program. And look if we can beat Alabama this year there’s the sky’s the limit. So this I feel real good about the season. Go Tigers.

Guy Benson Congressman last weekend on a much darker note we all saw what happened down in El Paso up in Dayton as well. And we have had I think almost predictably at this point a very nasty and ugly debate across the country at least among hardcore partisans of blame and personal attacks. I wonder if you would reflect on what we’ve watched happen over the airwaves and on Twitter and that sort of thing among our political elites in the wake of these horrible tragedies.

Rep. Steve Scalise It was disgusting to see how so many in especially presidential candidates tried to politicize immediately this horrible tragedy. When you have something like this where people like that go out and try to commit mass shootings. Our first thoughts are with the victims praying for the families the people that are fighting for their lives in many cases and you had that in El Paso and Dayton. And instead of the prayers and trying to find out what happened what went wrong how can we stop it from happening again, immediately you saw some of these shameful people going out and assigning blame to Donald Trump as if he somehow had something to do with it. Instead the shooter and then trying to call for outing of people and targeting of other people. I mean this has got to stop. You know, find out what went wrong. Don’t don’t don’t try to make it about yourself or your political agenda. And Pelosi saying Mitch McConnell needs to come back and pass her bill, which by the way, if her bill was in place it wouldn’t have stopped anything. Both of the shooters passed background checks. It’s about finding out what goes wrong. What are the mental illness issues. How can we close more loopholes which we’ve been working on doing with mental health.

Guy Benson Yeah. And your point about the background checks bill that House Democrats passed not having hypothetically any effect on what happened last weekend that has even been confirmed by a CNN Fact Check Congressman something that you said there sparked a thought that I would like you to address… I think you’re in a unique position to do so. It seems like among a certain crowd now for politicians or anyone to offer thoughts and prayers to victims or victims families immediately after an atrocity like this. It’s treated like it’s almost the worst thing you can say it is mocked it is reviled. It is basically treated as a dodge from real action. And I’m wondering when you were fighting for your life after you were shot by someone who hoped to assassinate you over politics not too long ago… What was the effect of the outpouring of thoughts and prayers for you and your family?

Rep. Steve Scalise Guy, it was incredibly helpful to me. I mean those prayers from you know from your friends from neighbors but also from people you never even met before. It gave me strength. I mean incredible strength. It’s helped my family. It helped me to focus on getting better. You know not this negativity I didn’t spend all of my days thinking about the shooter and why he did it. I got to spend my time focusing on just getting better feeling and you know fight for my life. And I mean even in the House chamber when you have a tragedy and we will have a moment of silence to pray for those victims there are some members of the house in the House chamber during that moment of silence that are jeering as if as if we shouldn’t be saying a prayer. And I mean it’s just it’s a shame that we’ve come to this where you know look how much of they pushed religion and faith out of our public institutions in many schools you can’t pray before school board meetings even in a district like intangible hope parish in my own district they cannot pray before the school board meeting because so many of these groups have pushed prayer out of public institutions and you wonder why you see this breakdown where people would do things like this. Young people whether it’s other things that are inciting of social media, video games, there’s no excuse for it but we’ve got to get back to bringing states into our institutions because if you truly believe in a god and a higher being. It’s hard to imagine you’re going to go do something like this to other people.

Guy Benson On the policy front congressman I want to play for you back to back clips cut 1 and 2 of President Trump today talking about background checks. Listen.

President Donald Trump **SOUND BITE** Frankly we need intelligent background checks. OK. This isn’t a question of NRA Republican or Democrat. We’re really looking at very meaningful background checks. I think it’s going to happen there’s great great support. But we’re looking at it very very meaningful background checks.

Guy Benson Okay so the president is talking about perhaps expanding or enhancing background checks he has also endorsed so-called red flag laws that the goal of which would be to keep the guns or firearms out of the hands of someone who’s proven to be or flagged as mentally disturbed. What is your opinion on both of those issues Congressman.

Rep. Steve Scalise Well first of all I think the president has been very clear that he wants to keep guns out of the hands of people that are mentally unstable and there are already laws in place to help do that. But too many times we’ve seen that the dots are connected. We passed a fix nics bill to help tighten some of those so that for example the I think it was the southern spring shooting where certain things didn’t get put into the system regarding his problems with what the Air Force that there are now six other shooters where they’ve had mental health problems that didn’t get uploaded into a local database that ended up at the federal level. So closing those loopholes is important making sure that the laws that are on the books work better. But when you look at Red Flag laws I think the one thing Guy I think you understand this really well. But there are some red flag those out there that have no due process. You have to have due process. You can’t have the government take away your rights because somebody made a baseless accusation about you it’s got to be rooted in fact and you have to have the ability to go before a judge. But look there are ways to address the real problems. President Trump’s done a lot. By the way he gets no credit for it but what he did on bump stocks. You know you look at the Las Vegas shooting. Barack Obama was the one who authorized bump stocks. It was his administration that made those legal which was used in the Las Vegas shooting. Donald Trump’s the one who said no there shouldn’t be legal, and he fixed that. So let let’s focus on fixing problems not pointing to some bill that would have done absolutely nothing to stop the latest shooting or the one before it just so that you can broaden gun control because keep in mind that this isn’t just about background checks. Pelosi’s bill that she’s pushing right now that wouldn’t have stopped these shooters who did pass the background check it says for example if you want to loan your gun to your neighbor because she fears for her life her boyfriend maybe that she just broke up with this threaten to come back and kill her. She didn’t have a gun but you do if you loan your gun to her, you could go to jail for up to a year under Pelosi’s bill. That’s dangerous. So we’ve got to be careful that we’re not just passing something that’s bad in the name of doing something.

Guy Benson No I agree with that point I also think it’s important to remind people when some folks in the media suggest that nothing has been done on this front. Total inaction that’s not true. You mentioned the bump stock move on the executive level you mentioned fixed nics. That’s all we know well taken. Just to drill down for a moment here though on the red flag law issue and the enhanced on some level background checks provisions that the president seems to be behind. If the protections are there and if it is crafted in a way that you think is responsible, are those the types of actions that you are willing to look at and consider in Republican leadership?

Rep. Steve Scalise Look I’m willing to look at things that will solve problems that are real not talking points not some people that have an anti-gun agenda that try to take advantage of these kind of tragedies. That’s the first thing I see is when there’s a tragedy like this. There are people who have been pushing strong gun control measures that don’t want individuals to have the right to bear arms and they use a tragedy to immediately start pushing that agenda. So let’s look at what the problems are. Look I mean I still haven’t seen what the parkland shooting. I still haven’t seen any accountability at the FBI. The FBI, he was going around school saying he was going to be a school shooter. He posted things online and people raised those red flags and FBI had a file on him and for whatever reason chose not to do anything. The local law that the local sheriff didn’t arrest him on a number there I mean they once was that they knew his house by name because it had so many problems and yet they never did anything about it. And then he goes and he actually follows through on being a school shooter after saying he was going to be a school shooter if people go Oh what new law can we pass. Well how about all the laws that he already violated along the way that were not acted upon. Well let’s get better about closing loopholes and connecting dots and addressing things that are already covered under law. We have thousands of gun laws on the books. I voted for things that make sense. I’m not going to vote for something. That takes away individual citizens rights while not addressing the problem.

Guy Benson Congressman on MSNBC last night a guest was talking about the owner or the original investor in Equinox and Soul Cycle gyms– he is a very rich guy who’s donated to President Trump and other Republicans he’s holding a major event for Trump in the Hamptons and the guest on MSNBC. Speaking of this upcoming fundraiser said quote “I want pitchforks and torches outside this man’s house in the Hamptons.” We saw this week Senator McConnell’s house was being besieged by protesters people shouting death wishes chanting things at him as well. We also saw threatening and menacing phone calls coming into some of the businesses of Trump donors that were called out specifically by Joaquin Castro, a member of the House of Representatives on the Democratic side. What’s your take on sort of this environment that we’re seeing.

Rep. Steve Scalise Well I think this is this is dangerous. And look this is where you need to see the left standing against this coming from their side. All those of us on the right who have seen it on both sides left or right. Somebody is conservative liberal anti-gun pro-gun. If they tried to invoke violence or tried to I mean look the people at Mitch McConnell’s house were calling for him to be killed. There’s no place. We’re left calling that out. I don’t see anybody that’s disgraceful it’s dangerous. It provokes this kind of of anger and hatred that leads to attacks.

Guy Benson Well McConnell’s campaign their own Twitter feed was suspended their Twitter account was suspended for calling out the hatred at his house which I think is something that the folks in trade are going to have to.

Rep. Steve Scalise I definitely realized they made a mistake. But why did they do that? They said here’s a countdown for highlighting and holding accountable people who were trying to threaten his life. And so Twitter goes after him instead of the people who were threaten his life. You know this is this is where you’ve got this this double standard is concern that social media has an anti-conservative bias. But look leaders on the left ought to be calling this out. They all ought to be asked right now a presidential candidate should be asked do they condone what happened in front of Mitch McConnell’s house or some of this other stuff like what Castro did. And I called that out, but I haven’t heard anybody from the left calling it out.

Guy Benson Should Congressman Castro be censured for what he did?

Rep. Steve Scalise I think it definitely falls into line of some of the other things that people have been censured for but in the end he’s he’s got to be held accountable by other leaders in his own party. I mean his brother’s a candidate for president and he’s I think the chairman of his campaign the campaigns flounder and so they’re trying to get attention. This is not the way to do it. Nobody should tolerate that but everybody should be calling it condoning it and I don’t see that happening right now and it’s a shame.

Guy Benson I also feel like we shouldn’t hold our breath for action from Pelosi who couldn’t even bring herself to act against Ilhan Omar and anti-Semitism so it’s kind of where we’re at right now. Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana the House Republican whip. We always enjoy having you on. Congressman looking forward to next time and have a great weekend.

Rep. Steve Scalise It’s always great to be with you. You have a great weekend too. Thanks.

Guy Benson You bet. We’re going to step aside. Be right back. It’s the happy hour here on the Guy Benson show on this Friday.