After months of asking, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell was finally granted an interview with someone associated with the National Rifle Association. His interviewee, former Congressman Asa Hutchinson–who is most well-known for his role in the attempted impeachment of President Clinton–denies being employed by or an official representative of the NRA, but was recently assigned to lead a task force on school safety for the organization.
O’Donnell asks him about the study, his recommendations and priorities and the study’s supposed independent status.
Watch O’Donnell ask who was on the task force and whether any of them they stand to profit from the recommendations they’re making in this clip, courtesy of MSNBC:
Watch the interview in its entirety:
Transcript, courtesy of MSNBC:
>>> three months ago, wayne lapierre said he and other nra officials would answer questions on any television program. since then, wayne lapierre and everyone at the nra have refused our invitations to come on this program every night, until now.
>> the nra announced new proposals.
>> former congressman asa hutchinson.
>> false and misleading statements by william jefferson clinton were repeated by witnesses to the grand jury.
>> spearheading the nra charge.
>> the first recommendation is for model training programs.
>> training teachers and personnel to carry weapons.
>> designated arms school personnel.
>> which could include side arms, shotguns to ar-15s.
>> allow for weapons to be carried on school properties.
>> there’s going to be requirements for changes in state law.
>> it is a different story in the states.
>> i would be interested what connecticut is doing.
>> connecticut is leading by example, passing some of the strictest gun control measures.
>> the bill includes a registry for existing magazines and the assault weapons ban, calls for background checks for private sales.
>> totally inadequate.
>> 90% of americans believe universal background checks are essential.
>> there’s no guarantee the nra will accept these recommendations.
>> the national rifle association is the natural, obvious choice to sponsor this program.
>> i am employed as a consultant.
>> this is the head of the effort, asa hutchinson.
>> involved in a same-sex marriage political marriage with wayne lapierre.
>> we need common sense.
>> common sense gun regulation.
>> if we fail, it can only get worse.ational rifle association released its taskforce’s report on how to reduce a modern american way of death. gun massacres by america’s uniquely, well equipped, mass murderers, who used rapid fire weapons with high capacity ammunition magazines to gun down children and teachers at sandy hook elementary school. men, women, and children at a movie theater in aurora, colorado, and a congresswoman and her constituents in tucson, arizona. after three months of study, the nra taskforce recommendation was exactly what the nra said it would be three months ago.
>> we should put armed security in every school.
>> that was wayne lapierre three months ago, and here was the director of that taskforce on his first day on the job three months ago.
>> armed, trained, qualified school security personnel will be one element of that plan.
>> that was former congressman asa hutchinson who served as head of the dea and undersecretary of homeland security department in the bush administration, and first came to national attention as one of the house prosecutors in the impeachment trial of president clinton. joining me, congressman hutchinson. thank you for coming on the program. we have been trying to get anyone from the nra on for the last three months. you’re the first person to do this for us, i want to first thank you for that.
>> well, you’re welcome, and i’m not with the nra nor do i represent the nra, nor am i spokesman for the nra. i am in here as the director of the taskforce that just looked at the school safety issues, and lawrence, i am delighted to be here, but that introductory piece really misrepresented the background that led up to this taskforce and our findings. for example, philadelphia uses magnetometers for every high school student to go through, but they don’t used armed school resource officers. we’re not trying to change that. that’s their prerogative. we are delighted with the security measures that they have in place. we want to help them there. you go out to los angeles, they choose a different model with armed school resource officers, about 300 of those in their unified school district. that’s their prerogative there. and so our report makes recommendations that are useful for whatever model the schools adopt, but yes, if you’re going to use a school resource officer, have greater training. if you’re going to use armed school personnel, have 40 hours of training, make sure they’re trained properly, and then have many other tools far beyond simply an armed officer that will help these tools, particularly middle america, that is facing the challenge of few resources, but they want to be able to protect the children. our 252 page report provides some solutions for them.
>> congressman, you made much today of your independence from the nra, so i want to go through some checklist items on that, because on the taskforce report like this as you know when you were in congress and the administration, when the report comes in, you want to know what is the independent standing of the report, where biases may be. what was your score card with the nra?
>> you have to check.
>> somewhere close to 100%.
>> i come from arkansas, that’s the —
>> and that’s kind of a beginning point on just how independent this taskforce is. the second question i would have about that, did you select the members of this taskforce, you personally?
>> yes, i did.
>> and why, if you selected them, did you not select a single person who has spent one day of his or her life in a classroom as an educator?
>> well, i’m not sure that’s a true statement that you’re saying.
>> well, it is. i’m going to clarify it is. there are 13 members, including yourself, all have law enforcement backgrounds and security backgrounds. there wasn’t one person in there with any form of an education background or any experience as a teacher or school administrator, and this taskforce was charged with and you accepted that charge of school security exclusively.
>> well, for example, i have met with principals and superintendents and heard their viewpoints and their concerns. they’ve greatly impacted the report that we’re producing. michael dorn is a school safety expert out of georgia that’s nationally recognized. we have consulted with him. we have consulted with the national association of school resource officers and like i said, administrators across the country. so we brought in a broad viewpoint. but it is also important that the former secret service, they’re the ones that were called in to look at the virginia tech after incident report, the homeland security officials, law enforcement training, we wanted to look at better training models for those that work in sensitive environment, and i can’t think of anybody better, and you’re looking at they’re recommending 40 to 60 hours of training for anyone who utilizes for a school resource officer, for enhanced training for them, for enhanced training if you have armed school personnel, it would be very substantial training. so that’s the expertise we brought in for this review.
>> i am looking at the members now. rbt solutions is a company, there are 13 members of your taskforce, five of them work for that same company. another company that is not listed on here, six people are affiliated with, command consulting group. rbt solutions is actually in the business, isn’t it, of training school security officers. they would make money, a lot of money, if these recommendations that they voted for on your taskforce were actually carried out?
>> well, i doubt that. they’re actually — they do work primarily for overseas military is my understanding.
>> so is it your understanding no one is involved in the taskforce that’s involved with any company that would in any way profit from the recommendation made by this report if it was carried out nationally?
>> i don’t think so because nationally if this is carried out, schools are going to make decisions as to who in their school, are they going to expand school resource officers. those are relationships with the local sheriff’s office, the local police department.
>> but congressman —
>> they’re training, you interrupted me.
>> go ahead.
>> their training is provided by local law enforcement, the law enforcement training center, for example, for the state. if you go to armed school personnel, i hope they utilize the private sector, not just a state function, generally would be state by state that would provide this training.
>> and how much were you and the taskforce members paid for this work?
>> well, we’re not going to provide you with a line by line.
>> why wouldn’t you do that, congressman.
>> because it is none of your business primarily.
>> if you’re submitting a report to be evaluated as an independent report and you’re being paid by the people who you are giving the report to, the credibility of the report rests on a lot of things, including that payment relationship. so i would like to ask you how much did the national rifle association pay you individually to do this, and are they still paying you?
>> lawrence,let me tell you, i compiled this group of experts to provide the report. have you read the 252 page report?
>> yes, i have, it is right here on my desk. if there’s any page you want to refer to, i am happy to go straight to it.
>> let’s go to the best practices.
>> go ahead.
>> and if you look at best practices, if you look at the interior lock section, where it talks about the importance of the right kind of locks to protect the teachers in the school, if you look at the perimeter fencing, it has the examples there of the best practices across the country. this has nothing to do with firearms, this has nothing to do with school resource officers, this has something to do with assessments schools do to develop the right security plans. have you looked at the section which recommends that school safety become a part of the adequacy standards for school education by the states, this is not money, this is local control, this is saying safety is important to the children. i have been very frustrated that we present a comprehensive report that will do something good for the safety of our children across this country, mark mateoli came as a sandy hook parent, said i want to express my thanks that someone is doing something about safety. i wish the debate would move in that direction because that’s exactly what will save children’s lives.
>> i would like to talk about two children in particular, a six-year-old, veronica moser sullivan, and nine-year-old christina taylor greene and your report. your report is concerned exclusively with keeping children safe in schools. that’s what the nra charged you to do. that was the limit of it. and so you and the nra are concerned with keeping children safe in school, but when they leave the school, it is the nra position that those children are on their own if one of those children goes to a movie theater, say in aurora, colorado, as veronica moser sullivan did when she was six years old, she can be shot to death, and the nra will make no comment about that and make no recommendations about what to do about that, and christina taylor greene at nine years old after going to school can go watch her congresswoman, gabby giffords, in a shopping mall parking lot and you and the nra have absolutely no recommendation how to keep that nine-year-old girl safe in america if she’s in a shopping mall parking lot. why aren’t you and the nra doing a taskforce on movie theater safety and shopping mall safety?
>> every instance you refer to is an incredible tragedy. i have been a federal prosecutor, i have dealt with crime, i’ve had to deal with victims. those are all individual tragedies. how do you respond as a society to those individual tragedies that we see? you respond by law enforcement, you respond by security, you respond by addressing the problems of society. i tackle one thing at a time in life. i am tackling school safety. we believe we made some good recommendations. i wasn’t asked to look at the safety of movie theaters. i was not asked to look at the safety of members of congress. i was asked to look at the safety of schools. we have done that. we have performed that, we made some very substantial recommendations that i hope will be considered by the federal congress, by our states, and i hope the nra. they haven’t made decision to accept these recommendations or not. one of them is a mental health component for our schools that we need to do better in so that whenever we have incidence of bullying or other anti- social behavior that’s dealt with promptly in the schools, these are part of our recommendations that i hope will be accepted by the nra, but also will be looked at by individual schools as better practices.
>> congressman hutchinson, you made reference there to tackling this problem. i want you to listen to someone who literally tackled this problem. listen to patricia moesch, one of the people that tackled the shooter, the man that tried to kill congresswoman gabby giffords. let’s listen to her.
>> i immediately got to my knees and they were shouting grab the gun, grab the gun. and i couldn’t reach the gun because it was in his right hand and that was the distant one from me. as they were doing that, he pulled out a magazine from his left pocket and had it in his hand, but he dropped it on the sidewalk, and i was able to recover it before he could get it. by then, the gun had been secured and i noticed he was flailing his legs, and i was afraid he might be able to get free, so i knelt on his legs, on his ankles. i did that for a couple of seconds.
>> congressman, that gunman was stopped because he had to reload. he was using a magazine that carried 33 bullets. he obtained that legally. he showed no interest in obtaining any weapons illegally. if we had still been living under the law that dianne feinstein helped push through into law in this country and that you opposed, he wouldn’t have had access to a 33 bullet magazine. he would only be able to shoot ten bullets. i said publicly i blame the shooter for the first nine or ten bullets, but i blame the government and people in the government that allowed him to have those extra bullets to shoot the rest of those people, kill christina taylor greene and other people there. isn’t it reasonable as you sit here tonight to think that we should not be equipping our mass murderers with the highest capacity magazines we can possibly equip them with?
>> well, we need to certainly keep weapons out of the hands of those that are prohibited by law from having those weapons, and that is those that are convicted criminals, those who have been adjudicated mentally —
>> can i finish?
>> you and i agree they will get those weapons. when they get them, what kind do you want them to have?
>> let me finish what i was saying.
>> do you want lower capacity weapons when crazy people and criminals get their hands on them?
>> i want to have laws that are in force. i want to have background checks that are meaningful and that means you have to put information into a system, and 32 states now are not even putting information into the system to make sure we have adequate background checks, so let’s improve that system. you’re wanting to reduce, have the gun control laws, whether it is magazine capacities or whether it is the type of weapon that somebody has. that is a debate you can have. my debate, although i don’t agree with that as a solution because i don’t think that’s going to save children’s lives, i think what we are proposing will help address, help schools to address from a local standpoint, improve security in their schools, and regardless of all of the protections, all of the laws you pass in congress, you’re always going to have someone that will get a gun illegally that will go into a school and what is going to be the response there. are you going to let a teacher put her life on the line without any officer in the school that can come as response person? i don’t think that’s the right course. i think teachers should teach and others should protect. that’s an option that our school should have. i don’t think it needs to be demagogued by saying, you know, president clinton proposed and put in armed guards in schools, is that an irrational concept that president clinton opposed? that has been adopted by some schools as a good safety measure. you can debate the other items. this is an important feature for school safety in our generation.
>> congressman, i’m not arguing with you over your proposal. what i will argue with you about is the efficacy of it and what we might expect for it. for example, as we know, there was an armed guard at columbine and that didn’t stop anything. and as you know, most bullets fired by police officers in america who have much more training than the school officers you’re talking about, most of the bullets american police officers fire miss the target they are aiming at, and as you know, the nypd has much more rigorous firearms training than anything you’re proposing for these school officers, and the hopes that you’re suggesting for the school officers are very unrealistic, especially when you consider that incident we had here in manhattan in front of the empire state building where two officers fired 16 bullets, they had to kill a gunman there, then they wounded nine bystanders, trained new york city police officer bullets wounded nine bystanders. so when you say let’s have these minimally trained gun officers in schools, you have to recognize that what you’re suggesting is something that has a very limited capacity for success, as do many of the other proposals that come from my side of this debate. we understand that there are limited capacities to the proposals we are making, that none of them are perfect. what bothers me, congressman, you make it sound like the good guys with the gun can solve every problem we have with mass murderers.
>> one point you made, you said minimal training. if you read our report, you will see we are enhancing training.
>> congressman, that’s nothing compared to nypd officer, and you know it. it is a joke compared to what police officers get.
>> i’m sorry, i thought i was supposed to be able to answer questions that you would ask. i really misunderstand the purpose of these interviews.
>> i’m sorry.
>> you made the comment there was minimal training that’s recommended in our report, yet our report enhances training to 40 to 60 hours for school resource officers. you have to remember that they already have gone through what a new york police officer goes through. they go through the law enforcement training. they’re sworn officers. then they’re assigned to the school with specialized training. we want to enhance that even to a greater extent because it is in a sensitive environment, and no one that carries a firearm in a sensitive environment should have a minimal amount of training, and they should coordinate that with the law enforcement, but whenever you look at whether it is sandy hook, whether you look at any other incidents, it is a law enforcement officer arriving with a firearm, which dismantles the circumstance and causes the shooter either to kill himself or to put down his gun or be killed. but it takes that officer who arriv arrives. we want to reduce response time, so they’re quicker, reducing response time will save lives.
>> curtis, one more question, i thank you for staying with us this long, and that is something that wayne lapierre said, the man you’re working for at the nra on this contract to deliver him a report he asked for. before our last presidential election, he sent out a fund-raising letter filled with ways to i guess put fear into the hearts of nra members. one of the things he said i am going to quote to you now. he said if president obama is reelected, this is a quote, the night of november 6th, 2012, you and i will lose more on the election battlefield than our nation has lost in any battle, any time, anywhere. now, congressman, that of course is spoken by someone who evaded military service himself. have you ever heard a more despicable thing dishonoring our war dead than you have heard from wayne lapierre? have you heard anything more despicable than that from anyone that ever hired you or anyone you have voluntarily associated with?
>> let me just say this about the nra. it is a very serious initiative that they have engaged in for school safety. as mark matteoli applauded the nra for something something to protect our children.
>> what do you think about what lapierre said about the country war dead, he said all of the war dead in the history of this country would not be — the suffering that we would have, with president obama reelected, which is the world we’re living in now, in other words, the suffering that he said you would be going through right now is worse than what american war dead have gone through, how does it feel to work for a man like that and take his money?
>> quite frankly, lawrence, i don’t trust your recitation of his statements, and so i’ll just have to read that for myself and comment after i read it myself.
>> congressman, this audience you’re talking to knows exactly where that came from. that’s been on this program before. that’s the guy you’re working for.
>> my task was school safety. we’ve looked at it. it is a serious commitment of the nra. i applaud them for that. i hope they adopt the recommendations we made, and i hope that it does something long term for school safety, and i think that should be applauded and i don’t think you need to demonize someone that wants to support that effort.
>> i think, congressman, i think wayne lapierre demonized himself when he said that if barack obama wins that this country will lose more on the election battlefield than our nation has lost in any battle any time, anywhere. those are the words of the man you’re working for. congressman, asa hutchinson, we’re out of time. i thank you very much for doing this tonight. i obviously have a lot to talk about this, and you’re the only person involved with that organization who has come here, and i really appreciate you doing that and giving us this time. thank you, congressman. okay. that will be it.