MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Friday lashed out at tea party-backed Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) after he insisted that there was no "gun problem" in the United States because mass shootings and assault rifles were a "people problem."
In an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Huelskamp said that what "bothers me the most" about the slaughter of 20 children in Newtown was that people were using the tragedy to push a gun control agenda. The Kansas Republican insisted that violent videos games and mental illness were the real problems.
"But it is it time to look at assault weapons?" co-host Mika Brzezinski wondered.
"Will that solve the problem? I don't believe so," Huelskamp replied. "It's not a gun problem; it's a people problem."
"It's not a gun problem?" a shocked Scarborough interrupted. "So tell me, why do Americans need assault weapons? Why do they need these high-capacity clips? Why do they need a Bushmaster [AR-15 assault rifle]? Can you tell me why?"
"Well, you know what? There's been a lot of misleading statements, including those that are said right here," Huelskamp opined. "It's not a gun problem. There's a person doing that... But, gosh, let's step back. Let's not build on the tragedy in Connecticut and use that to push a political agenda."
Scarborough pointed out that Congress passed significant laws in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and few Republicans complained that the tragedy had been politicized.
"Do you dare come on my show and say that I am using the slaughter of 20 little 6- and 7-year-old children -- I'm using them for political purposes?" Scarborough asked in an angry tone. "I am not going to let you say that I am -- quote -- politicizing."
The MSNBC host continued: "Maybe some of us just believe, Tim -- just believe we have to do whatever we can, whether it's looking at mental health, whether it's looking at a violent culture of video games and Hollywood movies, whether it's looking at the proliferation of these weapons, whether it's looking at what happened in Oregon, what happened in Colorado, what happened in Virginia, what happened in Connecticut, what continues happening, Congressman. So, we can't at least talk about guns without you questioning my integrity and saying saying that I'm using the death of 20 children to try to make life for my children a little bit safer? We can't even talk about it without you coming on this show and insulting me personally?"
"You're not even a politician any more, and I understand that," Huelskamp shot back. "You look around this town, you look at within 24 hours, folks running on and saying we need to change the laws when they don't even know the situation. All I'm saying is, let's spend a little time looking at that, but not to use the tragedy. Because as a very famous political strategist said, don't let any crisis go unused. And I do not want to politicize this."
"So, let me get this straight," Scarborough quipped. "So, you can come on this show and say what I've said by the way, that we've got to look at violent video games and we've got to look at a violent culture that Hollywood promotes, and that's not politicizing. But if we even bring up guns, that somehow that's politicizing the death of 20 children. Wow."