Chris Matthews allows 2nd Amendment protesters Larry Pratt and Skip Coryell to dig their own hole while trying to get them to explain what freedoms are being taken away from them and what right the 2nd Amendment protects. The one thing that's obvious from watching them is that their irrational fears and blind hatred for the President has little to do with anyone taking away their guns.
For a reminder on who these guys are, here's what David Neiwert shared with us on Pratt back in August of 2009.
But then, that shouldn't be terribly surprising. As hate-group expert Brian Levin, the second guest, tries to explain, the GOA has a long history of right-wing extremism, dating back to the days in the 1980s when it was part of Willis Carto's white-nationalist operation. The main figure in all this was GOA's longtime and current leader, Larry Pratt.
Moreover, as the ADL explains, Pratt actually played a critical role in the formation of the militia movement in the 1990s:
In 1992, Larry Pratt, leader of a radical gun- rights group [the GOA] and an advocate of the formation of militias, issued a statement in the wake of the Rodney King riots urging the Los Angeles Police Department to "take advantage of what the Founding Fathers called the unorganized militia" in order to forestall further unrest. Many people initially joined the fledgling militia movement largely as a way to protect more aggressively their right to bear arms; even today, gun-related issues dominate many of the newsletters published by militia groups.
David Corn has this on Skip Coryell:
On April 19, an assortment of gun-rights groups will mount the Second Amendment March at the grounds of the Washington Monument. On the Web site for the march, its founder, Skip Coryell, calls it a "peaceful" event. But these folks, as the Violence Policy Center points out in a new report, are pushing a virulent strain of anti-government extremism that certainly could drive a body to take violent action.
Last month in an article for Human Events, a conservative magazine, Coryell noted that one aim of the march is to imply the threat of violence:
My question to everyone reading this article is this: "For you, as an individual, when do you draw your saber? When do you say "Yes, I am willing to rise up and overthrow an oppressive, totalitarian government?"
Is it when the government takes away your private business?
Is it when the government rigs elections?
Is it when the government imposes martial law?
Is it when the government takes away your firearms?
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating the immediate use of force against the government. It isn't time, and hopefully that time will never come. But one thing is certain: "Now is the time to rattle your sabers." If not now, then when?
... I understand that sounds harsh, but these are harsh times. ...
I hear the clank of metal on metal getting closer, but that's not enough. The politicians have to hear it too. They have to hear it, and they have to believe it.
Come and support me at the Second Amendment March on April 19th on the Washington Monument grounds. Let's rattle some sabers and show the government we're still here.
Notice that Coryell says he's not advocating the immediate use of force against the government. That sure makes it sound like he's revving up the gun-rights troops for possible rebellion down the road.
Transcript below the fold.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: We start with today`s pro-gun rallies in Washington and Virginia. Larry Pratt is executive director of Gun Owners of America and Skip Coryell is the founder of the 2nd Amendment March. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us.
Larry, what do you make of the U.S. government? Is it bad?
LARRY PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA: The U.S. government is too big. It has powers that it`s exercising that unconstitutional, socialistic. And I think that is the mood that more and more Americans are coming to realize is shared with a lot of their friends and neighbors, and I think we`re aiming to take it down a peg or two during the primaries -- when did it get...
PRATT: ... and elections.
MATTHEWS: ... socialistic? When did it get socialistic?
PRATT: Well, it`s been something that`s been on the way for a long time, but I think the incumbent president has probably in a sort of an unintended way done us a favor by making so many people so much more aware this is what they`re doing in Washington. And that`s why I think we`re seeing the growth of the opposition to what has been done in Washington because now people realize and they don`t like it.
MATTHEWS: I want to ask you about health care before we move to the other guest, and that question deals with this. Teddy Roosevelt was for national health. Dick Nixon was for it. Jack Kennedy, I was reading the other night, the first time he ran in `46 for the House, he was for it. Certainly Harry Truman was for it. Johnson was for it. Are they all socialists?
PRATT: Yes, actually, they were. They were advocating...
MATTHEWS: They`re all socialists.
PRATT: They were advocating -- and they called themselves, in many cases, progressives, which is just another word for socialist. And the idea that somehow the government can do better making decisions about my health than I can is obnoxious.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Skip Coryell on that. Skip, do you share the same views about the federal government, that it`s socialistic?
SKIP CORYELL, 2ND AMENDMENT MARCH: I think the federal government is way too big. Whether or not they`re socialists -- you know, I`m not a political science major. I don`t know. I just know that I don`t want the federal government running every aspect of my life. They are too big. They do need to be shrunk down a little bit, yes.
MATTHEWS: What freedom have you been denied in your lifetime? I mean, do you have rights or don`t you have rights? I`m curious. I feel pretty free. I guess you don`t because you wouldn`t be out there rallying if you did feel free. How do you feel that they`ve gotten in the way of your free speech, your free religion, your free association, the free employment, where you go, where you live, where you travel? Where have they gotten in the way of that, of these basic human freedoms?
CORYELL: Well, they have gotten in the way right now as I speak. I`m standing in Washington, D.C., next to the national monument, Washington Monument. I`m unarmed. Normally, I would carry a pistol for self-defense. Right now, I am defenseless, except for your cameraman, but I don`t think he`s going to do a whole lot of good if I try and -- if someone mugs me right now. So the right to keep and bear arms -- I am being infringed upon right now as we speak, sir.
MATTHEWS: Because you should be allowed to carry any armament you can carry, by "bearing arms." In other words, if you can carry it, you should be allowed to, if you can lift it up.
CORYELL: Well, I -- I suppose so, yes, but...
MATTHEWS: I mean, what are the limits to gun -- what are your limits to gun ownership?
CORYELL: Why would you...
MATTHEWS: What are your limits?
CORYELL: I want a pistol!
MATTHEWS: What should be your right?
CORYELL: I want a pistol on my side. I want to be able to protect my family. I got four little kids.
MATTHEWS: I know.
CORYELL: I got a 4-year-old little boy. I`ve got a 5-month-old baby.
MATTHEWS: How much...
CORYELL: I want to be able to protect them and my wife.
MATTHEWS: Should there be any limits -- should there be any limits on your ability to carry firepower, your personal ability to carry fire -- should it be what you can bear, literally?
CORYELL: Chris, what are you talking about...
MATTHEWS: I`m asking you.
CORYELL: ... a nuclear weapon or a...
MATTHEWS: You said you were...
CORYELL: ... a bazooka?
MATTHEWS: I asked to you name all the rights in the world, and you limited it yourself to your concern about guns on the Washington Mall. I`m asking you, what kind of gun would you like to carry? How big should it be on the Washington Mall? Can you carry a bazooka?
CORYELL: OK, I`ll answer that...
MATTHEWS: Does the 2nd Amendment protect that right?
CORYELL: I don`t feel the need for a bazooka right now, but I would like to have maybe a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson, maybe 9 millimeter, as long as I...
MATTHEWS: ... what are your rights?
CORYELL: Yes. I`m fine. My rights are...
MATTHEWS: What are your rights?
CORYELL: ... are I have the right to protect my family...
MATTHEWS: No, no. You`re just using rhetoric.
CORYELL: ... my kids...
MATTHEWS: You said your rhetoric -- you said that your rights were being denied right now on the Washington Mall because you can`t carry.
CORYELL: Yes, they are!
MATTHEWS: Well, tell me what your rights are.
CORYELL: Because I am not...
CORYELL: I can`t protect myself right now. I have...
MATTHEWS: Can you carry a bazooka?
CORYELL: ... the God-given right...
MATTHEWS: An automatic weapon?
CORYELL: ... to protect myself. And you and your friends are not allowing me to protect myself!
MATTHEWS: I`m asking you a question.
CORYELL: I don`t like big government!
MATTHEWS: I`m not on the Supreme Court.
CORYELL: And I am telling you...
MATTHEWS: I`m not in Congress.
CORYELL: ... exactly -- I`m answering your question, kind sir!
CORYELL: I am not being allowed to protect myself!
CORYELL: God gave me life. He gave me the right to protect my life. And it is being taken away by the government as we speak, sir!
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that everyone in Washington, D.C., right now would be better off carrying a firearm, everyone in the city of Washington right now would be better off carrying a gun?
CORYELL: They would be better off with the choice.
MATTHEWS: And well, if they exercised the choice, would that be OK with you? If you were surrounded right now by a million people in Washington all armed like yourself, would that bother you?
CORYELL: No, not really. I`m from Michigan. I do it quite often. I live with that.
MATTHEWS: OK. But you won`t tell me...
MATTHEWS: You`re an expert on 2nd Amendment, but you won`t tell me in any degree what it protects. Does it protect your right to arm yourself to what degree? Just tell me.
PRATT: Chris, let me relieve your curiosity, if I might...
MATTHEWS: No, I want Skip to answer the question. He raised the...
PRATT: Well, he`s giving you an answer...
MATTHEWS: He can handle the answer. He doesn`t need your help, Larry. He doesn`t need your help.
MATTHEWS: Larry, he doesn`t need your help.
PRATT: ... another take on it. You can look at the Militia Act of 1792. They made it very clear that it`s the standard issue rifle of the day that you`re going to be carrying. That`s what`s protected by the 2nd Amendment.
MATTHEWS: OK, so you would say that would be what today? What kind of armament would that be?
PRATT: Machine gun. The battle weapon that our soldiers are using.
MATTHEWS: You mean an automatic weapon.
PRATT: Of course.
MATTHEWS: But they`ve been outlawed since the `30s.
PRATT: In some ways, they`re greatly restricted. They shouldn`t be outlawed. That`s another unconstitutional invasion by our federal government.
MATTHEWS: Was J. Edgar Hoover a socialist, as well?
PRATT: Oh, yes. Very much a big government advocate. He`s the guy that really brought on the Depression with his big tariff.
MATTHEWS: No, J. Edgar Hoover.
PRATT: J. Edgar Hoover? I don`t know what his politics were.
MATTHEWS: Well, I thought they got rid of the machine guns back in the days of Elliot (ph) Ness, and you want to bring them back.
PRATT: That was a good deal before J. Edgar, really. Yes, I would. I would like to bring them back.
PRATT: That`s absolutely what the...
MATTHEWS: OK, you`re for machine guns...
MATTHEWS: Do you think you should be allowed to carry a tommy gun onto the Washington Mall if you feel like it?
PRATT: Just like Switzerland. Absolutely.
CORYELL: I would like to have a machine gun. I mean, not to carry...
MATTHEWS: Would you like to have the right -- do you have the right to walk down that mall you`re on right now carrying a machine gun?
CORYELL: Yes, I do. What I don`t have the right to do is murder people.
CORYELL: We don`t need 20,000 gun laws. We need one gun law that says, Thou shall not murder. That`s it.
MATTHEWS: OK. Do you need your gun to protect you from the federal government while you`re in Washington, Skip?
CORYELL: Not right now, no.
MATTHEWS: Not right now, but...
CORYELL: Not right now.
MATTHEWS: OK, would you? Larry, would you like to have a machine gun to protect you from the federal government?
PRATT: When they start shooting the way King George shot at our forefathers, they get the first shot. We get the last.
MATTHEWS: Do you expect that?
PRATT: I don`t know what to expect. These people are out of control, though.
MATTHEWS: Is it plausible that this government of ours which was elected by us, that wasn`t foisted on us by a royal crown in Britain -- do you think it`s plausible that it could come to attack you personally with guns?
PRATT: It`s not plausible until the moment it happens. It`s just something that -- for instance, the Jews weren`t expecting...
MATTHEWS: OK, so...
PRATT: ... in Nazi Germany.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask about President Obama. Do you believe he`s an American? You first, Larry.
PRATT: I don`t care whether...
MATTHEWS: I`m asking you...
PRATT: ... he`s an American or a foreigner.
MATTHEWS: ... a question.
PRATT: The man is an un-American...
MATTHEWS: Sir, if you can`t answer this question, it`s the last one I`m putting to you.
PRATT: Listen, you take the answer I`m giving you...
MATTHEWS: Do you think he`s an American?
PRATT: ... because that`s the way it`s going to have to work. He is un-American in the way he thinks.
PRATT: He hates this country. He hates the Constitution. He`s a socialist and he`s trying to grab every bit of power he can!
MATTHEWS: What was he teaching...
PRATT: That`s the answer.
MATTHEWS: What was his specialty at University of Chicago law school? Wasn`t he teaching constitutional law?
PRATT: He was teaching Saul Alinsky combat -- street combat methods, that`s what he was doing.
MATTHEWS: At the University of Chicago law school?
PRATT: That`s exactly right.
MATTHEWS: Where do you get this from?
PRATT: From the blackboard that he was photographed in front of.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about Obama -- you won`t tell me whether he`s a citizen or not. You have a problem with that question, I guess.
PRATT: I don`t care whether he is or not!
MATTHEWS: Well, what`s your answer?
PRATT: I don`t know! I don`t care!
MATTHEWS: So you`re not willing to vouch for him as an American.
PRATT: All I know is I want to get him out of office as soon as I can!
MATTHEWS: OK, you won`t answer the question. How about Skip? Will you answer the question? Is Obama president of the United States? Is he legitimately elected? Is he a citizen of our country?
CORYELL: As far as I know, he was legitimately elected to the office of president. He is my president until someone proves differently. He is my president, yes.
MATTHEWS: OK. But you won`t back that up. You`re not with him on that, Larry, right, so we have a disagreement here.
PRATT: Hey, you can make anybody disagreeable, Chris. Way to go!
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what? It`s the pursuit of the truth, sir, and you`ve given us a lot. You don`t think this president is one of us because you won`t even say so.
PRATT: What`s important is what he believes and what he`s doing.
MATTHEWS: No, what`s important...
PRATT: That`s what we have to deal with.
MATTHEWS: ... is you won`t answer a simple question. Is he an American?
PRATT: He`s in the office, and I want to defeat him.
MATTHEWS: OK. Right. Well, that`s fair enough. That is totally fair. This is how we do it in this country, debating -- what I don`t understand is your lack of faith in our government. It`s a democratic government. It`s decided every four years who our president is.
PRATT: You love the government...
MATTHEWS: And yet you don`t have any faith...
PRATT: ... because you`re a socialist...
MATTHEWS: ... in our democratic ability to pick our president.
PRATT: ... and they`re socialists! And they`re doing what you like. Naturally, we`re going to be a little bit disturbed because they`re coming for our freedom.
PRATT: They`re coming -- you can`t open a business without a permit. You can`t do anything in this country without a permit. That`s not freedom.
MATTHEWS: So I`m a socialist, too.
PRATT: Of course!
MATTHEWS: How did I get this label? Where`d this come from?
PRATT: Chris, look at what you believe in. I watch your show. I know what you talk -- I know what you think.
MATTHEWS: Where are my errors (ph)? Do I believe the federal government should control our economy?
PRATT: Of course. You`re supporting all this stuff.
MATTHEWS: The president of the United States named George W. Bush supported the bailing out of the auto industry. He supported the bailing out of our financial institutions.
PRATT: And shame on George...
MATTHEWS: Is he a socialist, too?
PRATT: And shame -- yes, he is. And he said he had to use a little socialism to try to save capitalism. Well, you know what? That was really a stupid thing to say!
MATTHEWS: OK, Larry. We know where you stand, bro. Thank you for coming on. I`m not a socialist, by the way, but I can only defend myself against your otherwise general charges.
MATTHEWS: Pardon me?
PRATT: You got plenty of good company. You ought to `fess up to it and just enjoy it.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Skip Coryell. It`s a great country, isn`t it, Larry? And we do have our freedoms. We just proved it. You guys with all this paranoia are crazy. There`s plenty of freedom in this country.
MATTHEWS: I prove every night, sir...
CORYELL: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Every night, I prove we have freedom. Thank you very much for coming on. And you helped prove it with me.