A funny thing happened Sunday on the political talk show circuit. Republican presidential candidates all quite clearly demonstrated to the American people why all their over-the-top rhetoric, denouncing of radical Islam, Syrian refugees and stopping terrorist attacks in our country is nothing compared of the fear they have of the NRA.
They'd much rather allow people on terror watch lists to have quick access to guns than try to keep suspected terrorists from attacking American citizens. I was first struck by this by how far the rabbit hole Donald Trump fell as he tried to not upset the gun lobby on ABC's This Week:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You've also talked about you want to keep the terror watch list, but under current law individuals on the terror watch list and the no-fly list have been allowed to buy guns and explosives. Are you OK with that?
DONALD TRUMP: We have to have a watch list, and if that watch list has somebody that's -- you know, we have -- you know, we have the laws right now. We have the laws already on the books as far as Second Amendment for guns, and as you know I'm a big, big, really big proponent of the Second Amendment. If in -- I'll give you an example. If in Paris some of those people, those -- and if you had some of those people had guns, you wouldn't have had the horror show that you had with nobody...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But why should someone on the watch list --
TRUMP: -- out of hundreds of people [INAUDIBLE]
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- be able to have a gun?
TRUMP: No, no. You -- if people are on a watch list or people are sick, you have already -- this is already covered in the legislation that we already have, George. It's already fully covered.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but under current law --
TRUMP: But we have --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- people on the watch list --
TRUMP: -- if we have an enemy of state --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- are allowed to buy guns.
TRUMP: Listen, George, if we have an enemy of state, I don't want to give him anything. I want to have him in jail, that's what I want. I want to have him in jail. But if those people in Paris had guns in that room, it would have been a shootout and very few people would have been hurt by comparison to the number that were hurt.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But yesterday --
TRUMP: I'll tell you who would have been hurt, the bad guys would --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But yes or no?
TRUMP: -- because they were the only ones that had the guns.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Trump, yes or no, should someone on the terror watch list be allowed to buy a gun?
TRUMP: If somebody is on a watch list and an enemy of state and we know it's an enemy of state, I would keep them away, absolutely.
Why the hemming and hawing, Donald? Normally you would hear him say that if only one terrorist gets his hands on a gun, that would be too much, but not when it comes up against the NRA's intention of arming kindergarten teachers and toddlers with AK-15's.
Here's Ben Carson:
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about this issue of the terror watch list? As I told Mr. Trump, under the current law, people on the terror watchlist are permitted to buy guns, have been permitted to buy guns and explosives. Would you continue that?
CARSON: Well, as you, I'm sure, know, there are a lot of people on that watchlist and they have no idea why they're on that list and they've been trying to get their names off of it and no one will give them information. You know, I am a big supporter of the Second Amendment, and I don't want to deprive people unnecessarily of that. There needs to be better due process.
And that's one thing that I'm very interested in finding a way to make government more responsive to the people. It's really unfair that people can't get a real hearing. And they get put on a list and nobody can tell them why they're there, and they go through for years and years and they have to be tormented. It just doesn't make any sense.
Instead of outright denying people access to the types of weapons that can have dire consequences if they are used on civilians, Carson reiterates his love of the second amendment, he'd much rather make sure all the names are on the list to be be better screened. In other words, he better not cross the NRA or they will throw their support behind another candidate.
Gov. John Kasich feigned ignorance when asked his opinion on allowing guns to be sold to people on the terrorist watchlist on Meet The Press:
CHUCK TODD: Last question, Bill Bratton, New York City Police Commissioner, says he wants Congress to ban the ability of anybody on a terrorist watch list, even if they're an American citizen, they're on a terrorist watch list, they cannot buy firearms. It's a proposal that's sitting in Congress. The N.R.A.'s not happy with it, where are you on it?
GOV. JOHN KASICH: I've never heard it until right now. I have a lot of respect for Bill Bratton, but I will also tell you that Americans want to defend themselves. And that what we really need to focus on on firearms right now is making sure that states use their databases to upload the people who have mental illnesses. And if we want to examine people who are on terrorist watch lists and not let them buy a gun, I mean, it's something that ought to be considered. It's the first I've ever heard of it.
That's an expert way not to have to answer the question. You'd think that when the NYC police commissioner asked for tools to defend the city most likely to be attacked, Kasich would sign up and support his request, but not so.
Gov. Chris Christie actually took action in his home state of New Jersey, but when asked by CNN if he supported Feinstein's legislation, refused to support a federal ban on the issue because?
TAPPER: In the wake of the Paris attacks, Democrats are arguing that if you -- not you, but if someone is on a terror watch list or a no- fly list, they shouldn't be able to buy a gun.
According to the Government Accountability Office, over the past decade, suspected terrorists exploited a loophole more than 2,000 times. Now, when you signed -- in your auspices as governor, you signed legislation to close the loophole in New Jersey, so that if you're on one of those watch lists, you cannot purchase a gun in New Jersey.
Do you support Dianne Feinstein's legislation to do this nationwide?
CHRISTIE: I think these are state-by-state determinations, Jake, and they should be made state by state.