THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR OCTOBER 8, 2017 AND WILL BE UPDATED.
MARTHA RADDATZ, HOST: So let’s bring in FEMA Administrator Brock Long.
Mr. Long, thanks for joining us this morning. Tell us what FEMA is doing right now.
BROCK LONG, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Good morning. So right now the focus is on supporting all of the governors from Louisiana to Florida with their life-saving missions. Over the past 48 to 72 hours we’ve been working with them around the clock to pre-stage commodities and embed our
incident management teams with the emergency management directors in their EOCs.
The most important thing about this storm is this is one of the fastest-moving storms in the Gulf Coast since they’ve started to record tropical history. And so that’s very dangerous for many reasons. One, while it’s a 45-mile-per-hour tropical storm right now, you have to add to it the forward speed of 23 miles an hour.
So basically hurricane-force winds or just right at hurricane-force winds are going to pass through many portions of Alabama into Tennessee. And then also when it interacts with the mountains within western North Carolina, a lot of rainfall is going to occur from this as well.
RADDATZ: And we know it’s the fourth hurricane so far this year. We have about two months left in hurricane season. What are your concerns going forward? Do you have enough people? Do you have enough money?
LONG: Money is not the issue. Congress has been on top of that working with us. Back on October1, we had another 6.7 billion added to the disaster relief fund. And we continue to update them on a regular basis and will ask for supplementals as needed.
In regards to resources, of course we’re strained. You know, bottom line is, is that over nearly 85 percent of my entire agency is deployed right now. We’re still working massive issues in Harvey, Irma, as well as the issues in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and now this one.
But the bottom line is, is that we’re positioned to support Nate, you know, very well. The next thing is, is that, you know, some of the fail-safes that we have are through mutual aid agreements with states to be able to call upon emergency managers from other states and around the states if we continue
to have more disasters.
RADDATZ: And, Mr. Long, let’s turn to Puerto Rico. The mayor of San Juan tweeting again this
morning, saying power collapses in San Juan hospital with two patients being transferred out, have requested support from FEMA, Brock, nothing.
And she also says: “Increasingly painful to understand the American people want to help and U.S. government does not want to help. We need water.” What’s your reaction to that?
LONG: We filtered out the mayor a long time ago. We don’t have time for the political noise. The bottom line is, is that we are making progress every day in conjunction with the governor. And in regards to the power failure, we’re restringing a very fragile system every day. As we make progress, simple thunder storms pass through, knocked the progress out.
Rebuilding, rebuilding Puerto Rico is going to be a greater conversation for the Congress in conjunction with the governor on how they’re — you know, what the way forward is in the future of Puerto Rico.
But in regards to the power outages and the hospitals, we built an entire 911 system. We monitor the hospital system daily. And so if there is a power failure at a hospital, which we’ve seen two of, you know, over this past week, we’re actually life-flighting (ph) the ICU patients out of those hospitals, onto the USS Comfort.
And we continue to stabilize that situation with hospitals. But as far as the political noise, we filter that out, keeps our heads down, and continue to make progress, and push forward restoring essential functions for Puerto Rico.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much for joining us, Mr. Long.
LONG: Thank you.
REP. SETH MOULTON: Well, it’s shown. They’re shown to affect gun violence. I mean, there are plenty of studies that show that states that have tighter gun laws have less gun violence. And this is an American epidemic. It’s really a public health crisis. I’ve seen the effects of gun violence first-hand in Iraq. And I know that it has no place at our schools, on our streets, at our concerts. And there are things that we can do to reduce it that are within the Second Amendment.
You know Scott and I swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States, both as members of Congress and the same oath as a Navy Seal and a United States Marine. So I don’t want to do anything that violates the Constitution, but there are common sense things we can do if Democrats and Republicans come together to reduce this violence in our communities.
ABC HOST MARTHA RADDATZ: You feel entirely differently.
REP. SCOTT TAYLOR: Sure. And let me say, it’s great to be with you, it’s great to be with Seth as well, too. And look, he, like most other folks in Congress, both Dems and Republicans, care very deeply about this country. They want to protect the Constitution, they want to protect their people. I understand that, for sure. But at the same time when you have a situation that happened, which was tragic, traumatic and everyone feels the same emotion, they do, but it’s up to leaders like us to have or to see clarity through the emotional chaos and to understand that it is a high, very high bar to be able to take some folks’ rights away to try to enact policies that take their rights away but not really do anything. So when you look at gun violence in America — when you look at deaths, when you look at 30 some thousand — the overwhelming majority of them are suicides, the overwhelming majority of them use handguns, right? When you look at some of the populations that are more predisposed, I guess if you will, to gun violence — there’s domestic disputes, there’s young men in certain areas — when you do look at some of the cities, when you look at the numbers of them, the vast majority of gun violence are in a few cities and they all have tight restrictions on guns. You can’t have a gun in D.C. but there’s still gun violence.
MOULTON: Look, as Justice Scalia said, you can have restrictions under the Second Amendment, as we do with any of the amendments in the United States Constitution. We already restrict– you want to protect your family’s home–
MOULTON: I mean, a great way to protect your family’s home, as you know as a Navy SEAL, would be to have some landmines out in front and have some grenades stockpiled. But we don’t allow that in our community. We don’t allow that those weapons of war here. We don’t allow families to own tanks. So we have reasonable restrictions that are perfectly respectful of the Second Amendment and we know from experience that restrictions like this, that common sense reforms will help.
TAYLOR: I would love to comment because you hear “reasonable” you hear “common sense.” Those are all wonderful words that everybody can agree are great, right? That make, sounds well. The reality is, though, that “reasonable,” “common sense” what does that actually mean? And I would also say that-
MOULTON: What it means is —
TAYLOR: Let me finish that point. Again, I want to say it, we have to see, you and I have to see clarity in all this emotion and to say it is a high burden for these constitutional rights that we have, whether it’s speech, whether it’s freedom of the press, whether it’s, you know, gun rights as well, it’s a very high burden that shouldn’t be swayed just by political emotion.
RADDATZ: Let me just talk about —
MOULTON: Let me just say for a second, because I think a lot of times opponents of making these reforms talk about political emotion. I mean I’m sitting here. I’m just trying to do something as a leader, as a representative in Congress of communities that want these reforms. Nine out of 10 Americans want background checks on guns. In fact, 69 percent of NRA members–
RADDATZ: You agree with that?
TAYLOR: There already are background checks. When you–
RADDATZ: Universal background checks, gun shows —
TAYLOR: When you’re a federally licensed arm dealer –
MOULTON: Without loopholes to get around them.
TAYLOR: When you’re a federally licensed arm dealer, if you had universal backgrounds, somebody if they really wanted to, and you very well know this, would be able to get around somehow. If they really want, they can do that.
MOULTON: Scott, you can always find an exception. But like we don’t say just–
TAYLOR: Yes, but these are the exceptions. These mass shootings are exceptions.
MOULTON: We don’t say– They’re exceptions that are unique to America.
TAYLOR: They’re not unique to America.
MOULTON: Oh they are. There is no–
TAYLOR: There are more of them in America. That’s true.
MOULTON: There are far more. Far more.
RADDATZ: Why do you think that is? Let’s stop there for a second. Why do you think that is? Why do you think there are far more mass shootings in America?
TAYLOR: Well let’s talk about that. Some guy just in France killed 84 people. With a car.
MOULTON: How many mass shootings has France had? How many mass shootings has France had?
TAYLOR: But that’s not the point, Seth, the point is it is not —
MOULTON: No it is the point! It is the point.
TAYLOR: The point is it’s not unique to America. It’s not unique to America. Yes, there are more, there is no question about that. I understand that. But the reality is, like I said, I’m not willing to impede on someone’s rights just because emotional rhetoric. And the other thing is when you look at evidence-based studies, you mentioned studies. The things that are proposed, like background checks, like the assault ban, I know you were supporting that. They don’t necessarily help reduce gun violence.
MOULTON: Actually background checks have unequivocally shown to reduce gun violence.
RADDATZ: But let’s talk about mass shootings for a second —
TAYLOR: But if you’re a federally licensed armed dealer, you have to have a background check anyway. I get a background check, you get a background check–
MOULTON: But Scott, almost 50 percent of gun sales do not happen through federally licensed dealers. So I mean, look, just because —
TAYLOR: How many of those were used in mass shootings?
MOULTON: Do you think that —
TAYLOR: How many of those were used in mass shootings? Because this guy went through a background check. In Vegas they do background checks.
MOULTON: You can always find an example of where certain mass shootings–
TAYLOR: Yeah, but you say that but I’m looking for, you mention one thing you said —
MOULTON: Look, nine out of 10 Americans —
TAYLOR: You say you want to get things done, I want to get things done too. So let’s look at–
MOULTON: Nine out of 10 Virginians, nine out of 10 people in Massachusetts.
TAYLOR: That’s not true. That is not true.
MOULTON: Nine out of 10 Americans want us to do this. Why are we so afraid to have a conversation?
TAYLOR: I’m not afraid to have a conversation. I’m here having a conversation. I’m not going, I’m not willing to impede on people’s rights based upon your political desires, I’m just not.
RADDATZ; I want to go back and, you watched this horrible event this week. Just horrible, horrible event. Is there anything you thought that we should do differently as a nation?
TAYLOR: That’s a great question. When you look at– let’s look at this instance. Like I said, there’s a lot of rhetoric out there. You got to do background checks and all these things. Well this guy went through background checks. And his brother didn’t know anything wrong with him, we didn’t. Look, I’m still struggling with that profile as well, too. I don’t understand. I think there’s probably some other information that’s going to come out.
But the reality is, when you look at some of the things that have been proposed on the other side from people who want gun control, none of them would have done anything about this issue. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do something. I saying when look at gun violence in America and when look at the populations that are more affected by it than other ones, I think there are some things we can work together on doing. But simple, just saying we’re going to have gun control without confiscating them, because if you want to confiscate them maybe we could do it then, but then you probably have civil war.
RADDATZ: How about fully automatic weapons? Should those be legal without restriction?
TAYLOR: OK, that’s a great question. I watched the video, and I listened to that rate of fire. And I’m sure you did as well and you probably heard the same thing that I did. It was faster than semiautomatic, it was not as fast as fully-automatic. It wasn’t sustained at fully automatic. But it was fast. The rate of fire was fast. And I hadn’t even heard of bump stocks and then I did some research on it. I think that should be reevaluated. I think they should look at that again and figure out again if, in fact, it should meet the same burden of a fully automatic, because, of course, it is faster than semi-automatic.
RADDATZ: How do you draw the line? I mean, semi-automatic you can fire pretty quickly and do a lot of damage too. Why do people need those weapons?
TAYLOR: I don’t feel like a semi-automatic weapon rises to that level of an automatic weapon. I said I do believe when you look at this bump stock, I think that ATF should reevaluate them.
MOULTON: Martha, first of all, let me say that Scott and I don’t agree on all the details here, we both support the Second Amendment. We obviously disagree on exactly how gun reform should be carried out. But I respect the fact that you are willing to have the conversation and this is the kind of conversation we should be having. Democrats and Republicans across the aisle doing our job as a representatives of Congress, representing the people in America. And when the American people are saying we need to do something about these mass shootings, we should be having conversations like this. And I’m actually working on a bipartisan bill that will eliminate this bump stock exception and will try to address the other ways you can get around this law.
Look, the gun manufacturers were smart. They figured out a way to get around the law. It’s the job of Congress to then step in and say that was not our intent, we did not want to provide this loophole in the law, so we should fix it.
RADDATZ: We’ve had conversations about the Fort Hood Shooting. We’ve had conversations about Newtown. We’ve had conversations about the Navy Yard shooting over the years. Nothing has really changed. So — so why do you think this will resonate now?
MOULTON: You know, I don’t know how many innocent Americans need to die in mass shootings like this before we’re willing to simply have these discussions. I’m sitting down with Republicans in the House of Representatives working on legislation because of this mass shooting. The sad thing is that if we don’t get anything done this time, we all know there will be another one. And some day, we’ll have the courage to do something that’s respectful of the Second Amendment that respects the fact that we’re a society that people like to hunt and people have the right to own guns, but not weapons of war.
We have ways that we can reduce this violence. We’re not going to eliminate it — you’re right, Scott. There’s no silver bullet that’s going to eliminate all of these things. I mean, look, you live in Virginia. Virginia outlaws homicides and rapes, right?
TAYLOR: That’s right.
MOULTON: That doesn’t mean that people don’t get around the law and still figure out how to kill people —
TAYLOR: So am I going to pass a law that’s going to stop that?
MOULTON: But you’re also not going to repeal that law, right? And say that we shouldn’t have any restrictions. I mean, there are common sense reforms, there are common sense laws that we can pass that are respectful of gun rights that still will reduce this public health crisis in America.
TAYLOR: May I interject? I hear reasonable. I hear common sense. That sounds great. Sounds great, but at the same time, like what are they? What are they that actually — that actually — backed by evidence — do something? And I — I have not seen that, and I know that you support the Second Amendment. We just disagree on how much we both support it —
TAYLOR: Or where it is.
TAYLOR: That’s fine, you know, reasonable people can disagree of course. But the Second Amendment’s not just for hunting, and you know, you hear that a lot. Oh, it’s for hunting. It’s not for hunting. And — and — and I get how weapons have changed over time, but the Second Amendment was put into place to be able to overthrow tyranny with weapons of war at the time. Now look, I don’t disagree that people shouldn’t have tanks and stuff like that, but let’s not — let’s not misunderstand history. I mean that’s why it’s there.
So I think there are people who feel very, very strongly about that. Very strongly. And same on your side as well, too. And look, I applaud you for reaching across the aisle and trying to — trying to figure out ways that — that are reasonable, you know, that aren’t what I’ve heard in some of the emotional — not you — but emotional other folks with your party that have come out and said things that I don’t find reasonable. I find they take peoples’ rights away — (CROSSTALK)
MOULTON: So then do you think that restricting these modifications like bump stocks and other things that turn semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons that we’ve outlawed before. Do you think that’s reasonable?
TAYLOR: I think that you — I think, yes. So you can create a law that says, OK you can’t modify your semi-automatic to automatic, which is already illegal, right? But you know as well as I do that it’s not that hard to figure out — if you want to figure it out and you’re, you know, you’re a little bit crafty, you can do it. You know that
MOULTON: I — I do.
TAYLOR: So if you just create a law, you’re already outside of the law if you’re doing it.
MOULTON: I — I — I do, but the reality is that these bump stocks are available for sale. I mean, we don’t know if the shooter had the skills to modify his —
RADDATZ: Had you heard of them before?
MOULTON: I had not heard of them before either.
TAYLOR: I hadn’t either.
MOULTON: But you know, there’s a difference between being able to have to machine apart to make a weapon into an automatic weapon versus just buying something off the shelf.
RADDATZ: So where do we go from here? Where do you think we’ll be a year from now?
MOULTON: I hope that this conversation will continue. It took some courage for Scott to show up here, especially as a Republican because a lot of Republicans are not willing to have this conversation, and I’m willing to sit down as a Democrat and be reasonable. But these are the conversations that we should be having in Congress to protect the American people. Let’s not say that just because people are emotional — I mean, my gosh, I’m kind of emotional. I mean, to see that many innocent Americans killed senselessly? Of course that’s emotional. But we’ve got to take action. We’ve got to do something.
TAYLOR: And I’m more than willing to sit down and have conversations to figure out how we — how we can help out. But the action that we take should be reasonable and common sense, of course. And it shouldn’t unnecessarily infringe on people’s constitutional rights. So I — I enjoyed the conversation and I look forward to having a lot more.