MSNBC's Thomas Roberts Asks If 'Jumbo Clips,' Semi-Automatic Rifles Should Be Banned

December 7, 2015

MSNBC's Thomas Roberts asked Rep. Bill Johnson (R., Ohio) on Monday whether "jumbo clips" and semi-automatic rifles ought to be banned in the wake of the terrorist attack on San Bernardino, California.

"Congressman, when we come to the topic of gun control and we look at massacre patterns in this country, schools, clinics, churches, army bases, movie theaters, shopping malls, now an agency for the disabled, isn't it common sense to evaluate who cares what these extremists are, whether they're mentally challenged or religious zealots, they have too much free and easy access to build an arsenal to go massacre americans in a movie theater or a center for the disabled?" Roberts said. "Can't we do something to make it a little less easy?"

"Thomas, California has some of the most rigorous and strict gun laws in our nation and yet these terrorists were still able to acquire their firepower that they used in that tragedy," Johnson responded. "I can tell you, I don't believe that restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is going to stop that problem."

After Rep. Johnson advocated for mental health reform, Roberts asked how people like the San Bernardino attackers can be stopped if they don't commit criminal acts prior to their attacks. He went on to question why "jumbo clips" and semiautomatic rifles are needed by average Americans.

"How do you secure Americans in their own homes and neighborhoods to let them believe that their neighbors aren't someone to suspect, that we can have a right to own a handgun or right to protect ourselves but why do we need jumbo clips?" Roberts said. "Why do we need to have these semiautomatic rifles? What's the point for that in a hunting society? Who needs it?"

Rep. Johnson answered by saying the Second Amendment is clear on gun rights. "We're not talking about hunting," Johnson said. "We're talking about the Second Amendment. When you look at the verbiage of the Second Amendment it says that the rights of the American people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. You don't get any clearer than that. It's emphatic that the rights of the American people to keep and bear arms is a guarantee under the Constitution of the United States."

Roberts then asked if ammunition purchases should be limited. Rep. Johnson said criminals and terrorists are not going to follow the law so gun control isn't the answer.

"The criminals, the terrorists, they're not going to follow the law, whatever the law might be" he said. "So going to a gun control debate in the light of where we are ... what we need is a president that will go after [the Islamic State] where they are, before they come here. We know now that Farook and his wife were radicalized. Where did that come from? That didn't come from Marrietta, Ohio. It was the Middle East. That radicalized element. The Islamic fundamentalists there."

"But we can say Christian ideology encouraged Robert Dear who went to the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs," Thomas responded. "Or a racist ideology encouraged what happened in Charleston, that that community had to live through with the Mother Emanuel church. We can ally the blame for radicalized human beings for various reasons but for your point of view and specifically about the president's point, gun control, limiting those on the no-fly list from having access to buying weapons, your opinion of that is what?"

Rep. Johnson said the no-fly list is flawed and has mistakenly contained members of his own family.

"That no-fly list is a big list and we have no idea how people get on that list," he said. "I can tell you that I've had a number of constituents and family members on that list and I guarantee you, Thomas, that they're not radicalized. Until the administration can guarantee us that we've got a no-fly list that is legitimate, I mean, they can't even vet the Syrian refugees that are trying to come in to America now. The FBI director himself has said that they cannot do that."

"So how do we know who's on that list and how do we know that that wouldn't be used to keep other law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to keep and bear arms?"