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updated 9/22/2013 11:59:24 AM ET 2013-09-22T15:59:24

DAVID GREGORY:

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Good Sunday morning, we’re going to get to the government shutdown in just a moment but first the breaking news this morning that we’re tracking in Nairobi, Kenya, one of the deadliest acts of terror in east Africa since the U.S. embassies were attacked in 1998. NBC’s Ron Allen is on the phone where the hostages are still being held. He’s got late breaking details for us. Ron, good morning.

RON ALLEN (via telephone):

Good morning, David. The death toll is now up to 59 today and 175 people wounded and those numbers could easily rise, because this is still a very tense and uncertain situation. We believe there are around as many as 10 to 15 gunmen still held up in this mall. They are holding perhaps as many as 30 or more hostages, the numbers are very unclear. And it’s unclear whether authorities have a full grasp of what’s going on. We’re talking about a huge urban mall, four stories tall, dozens of shops, restaurants, a food court. There was a matinee movie underway. There was a children’s event on the roof of the food court where there were dozens of children entertaining themselves. It’s a very chaotic situation here. The hospitals here are overwhelmed with wounded. We understand there are just a few Americans involved in this, none of the fatalities are Americans. Although there are are some foreign nationals who were killed. And at this point, the authorities are taking it slow, trying to get a grasp in every inch, in every nook and cranny in the mall. And it remains to be seen how patient they will be or whether they will try to force the gunmen out. We know that the militant group, Al-Shabab, who was linked to Al-Qaida, has claimed responsibility. There ‘s been a long-running battle they have been having with the Kenyan authorities about Kenya’s involvement with Somalia, where Al-Shabab is based. But again, it’s an uncertain situation that is more than 24 hours old.

DAVID GREGORY:

Ron Allen, on the scene for us in Nairobi. Ron, thank you very much.

And back home, the future of the American economy is at stake as Congress fights its way toward yet another fiscal deadline, another fiscal crisis. On Friday, the G.O.P.-controlled House passed a bill to fund the government for the rest of the year. But, that very bill denies funding for Obamacare. There is no support for that in the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats. Bottom line, if there’s no agreement between the House and the Senate before the end of the month, the federal government could shut down. In the meantime, the battle lines are drawn.

[TAPE:

JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:

"The American people don't want the government shut down, and they don't want Obamacare."

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: They're not focused on you. They're focused on politics. They're focused on trying to mess with me." END]

Joining me now from Utah, Republican Senator Mike Lee; from Minnesota, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar; and here with me in studio, California Congresswoman Democratic Barbara Lee and Republican Congresswoman from Tennessee Marsha Blackburn. Welcome to all of you. There is a filibuster in the Senate, thankfully not on Meet the Press, so we're gonna keep this debate moving. But I want to start with a question for all of you which is really a yes or no question. Senator Lee: Is the government going to shut down?

SENATOR MIKE LEE:

No. We all know that the government's going to be funded; the question is whether it will be funded with Obamacare or without.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. Senator Klobuchar, you think there will be a shutdown?

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR:

No, because I believe in the end people of goodwill will come together and do the right thing, and stop this political brinkmanship.

DAVID GREGORY:

To the congresswoman here, Barbara Lee, what do you say?

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

No, and we're not going to allow the de-funding of the Affordable Care Act.

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

No, as much as the president wants to shut down, he's not going to get it.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. Who wants it, who doesn't want it, is it going to be shut down; but you all think somehow this is going to be avoided. The question for you, Senator Lee, as one of, if I may, the firebrands in the Senate, conservatives who are fighting to de-fund Obamacare, you have gotten what you wanted. You wanted to have this fight. They've had it in the House, it's now coming your way in the Senate.

But I don't have to tell you Republicans are arguing with each other about whether this is the right thing. You have members of Congress who think you have over-promised to the base. Your own colleagues that I've spoken to believe that. Carl Rove wrote this (former Bush advisor) in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday: "The desire to strike at Obamacare is praiseworthy, but any strategy to repeal, delay, or replace the law must have a credible chance of succeeding or affecting broad public opinion positively.

"The de-funding strategy doesn't. Going down that road would strengthen the president while alienating Independents. It's an ill-conceived tactic and Republicans should reject it. What do you say to that, Senator Lee?

SENATOR MIKE LEE:

Well, ever since we started talking about the de-fund Obamacare effort back in July, people within the Washington establishment, in both political parties, have been attacking it. Right off the top, they said it can't be done. Some of them even said legally. It is not physically or legally possible to pass a bill that funds government but de-funds Obamacare.

Meanwhile, we've seen that all of those things are untrue. We've seen that the American people are rallying around this idea. They have seen the president acting to protect big business, big unions, and other special interests, and they want to be protected too.

DAVID GREGORY:

But, Senator, you don't have--

SENATOR MIKE LEE:

So this week--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Public opinion is running against Obamacare, that's a fact. You also don't have support in the Senate to de-fund Obamacare, do you?

SENATOR MIKE LEE:

Well, look, here's the issue. We have to ask the question, how many more people will have other lose their jobs or have their wages cut or lose their health care benefits before Congress acts, before Congress does something to protect the American people? How many states will have to announce that premiums are going up? You know, this week we saw Home Depot announcing that 20,000 employees will lose their health care benefits. The House boldly acted this week, and I commend Speaker Boehner for his leadership--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, but--

SENATOR MIKE LEE:

--on this.

DAVID GREGORY:

But I asked a direct question.

SENATOR MIKE LEE:

And now it's going--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Do you have support in the Senate to de-fund Obamacare or don't you?

SENATOR MIKE LEE:

We have support in the Senate. All 45 Republicans in the Senate, in March, voted to de-fund Obamacare. We will keep those and add a 46th, Jeff Chiesa from New Jersey. I nope that a few Senate Democrats, particularly those from red states who are up for reelection this year, will consider joining us because this is what the American people ask--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. Let me get everybody--

SENATOR MIKE LEE:

--us to do, and need us to do.

DAVID GREGORY:

--to sound off. Here's my question for the group, and I'll come to you, Congresswoman Blackburn, first. You remember in the '90s, the shutdown, '95?

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

Sure.

DAVID GREGORY:

'95 into '96. The prevailing view is it hurt Republicans. Look at the bare facts. You had $1.4 billion in the cost to government; the images of closed parks and furloughed workers. And parts of the government shutdown were seen as a net negative for Republicans. Why would you want to go through that again?

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

We're not trying to go through it. We know the president wants it because he wants control of the checkbook for discretionary spending. Republicans are committing to solving the problem of all of this spending in Washington, D.C. I mean, look at what has happened with spending since this president took office. Look at what is happening with jobs, with the economy. Look at what is happening with Obamacare, and the impact that that $2.6 trillion of additional expense is going to have on federal spending. We want to solve the problem. We'd love to have the president meet with us instead of going to meet with Putin.

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator Klobuchar, your thoughts on this.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR:

Well, first of all, David, I think our economy's on the cusp of great opportunity your. The unemployment rate in my state's down to 5.1%, the real estate market is turning around, and you're seeing improvements across the country, but we're not where we're supposed to be. And the last thing that the American people want right now is people playing political games, putting in poison pills, and threatening to shut the government down or default on our debt.

And that's what I think we should be doing, is moving forward on the immigration bill which reduces our debt by $160 billion in ten years. If you want to talk about debt reduction, there's a good one right there. Moving forward on the farm bill. And looking at these opportunities to help Americans get jobs. And this brinkmanship and going to the end every single time, like we saw in 2011 when the Dow cascaded down 20 points, is not the way to go.

DAVID GREGORY:

Barbara Lee, Congresswoman, do you agree with your colleague here? Do you think the president really wants to push for the shutdown to try to win back the House and get more of his agenda through after the midterm?

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

The president does not want a government shutdown. First of all, when the president took office, we were losing 800,000 jobs per month. The president has turned the economy around. Yes, we have a long way to go, but we are creating jobs. This administration is doing that.

With regard to the Affordable Care Act, for the life of me, I can't understand why in the world the Affordable Care Act would be held hostage to our government shutting down. Millions of people have already benefited from this. We have children who now receive health care who could not receive health care prior to this because of preexisting conditions; we have millions of young people who are still on their parents' health insurance plans, who would not be on those plans. We have over 100 million people now who will not be jammed out of their insurance because of the fact that they exhaust their benefits. And so people right now are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act. I don't believe--

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

They're being hurt by it too.

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

They're not being hurt by this.

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

Yes, they are.

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

They are--

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

Look at the millions of individuals: 7 million more individuals will lose employer-provided insurance, and that's according to the C.B.O., because of Obamacare. Look at the thousands-- we've got over 300 companies that have altered, changed, or reduced health benefits because of Obamacare. And that is hundreds of thousands of uninsured lives. We have 21.3 million Americans who are either un- or underemployed.

(OVERTALK)

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

Health care costs are going down. They're going down--

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

No, they're not. They are--

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

--for the first time in 50 years.

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

--escalating.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, let me just--

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

They are through the roof.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me inject a point of fact here. There is a lot of confusion, and we've done some checking on this as well. Even the issue of premiums, they have gone up in some states; they're coming down in other states if they have exchanges. I mean, you know full well it depends on who the governor is.

If you're governor of Florida, you're inimical to the Affordable Care Act, you're going to make it more difficult, the Feds have to come in and do it. In New York, Democratic governor, they're having an easier time of it. So it really does matter where you are, but there is confusion, Senator Lee, to your point, and to your opposition.

Here are some of the headlines this week, a couple pro, a couple con here. Reuters: "Cleveland Clinic announces job cuts to prepare for Obamacare." Bloomberg: "GE, IBM ending retiree health plans in an historic shift." USA Today: "Health care for 100 bucks a month? Yes, really, that is possible." The South Florida Sun Sentinel: "Obamacare cuts costs." So there is vulnerability because it is unpopular, but there is not a fact pattern that you can say is a singular fact pattern in terms of the impact of Obamacare yet.

SENATOR MIKE LEE:

Well, that may well be the case. But the fact is, this law is creating enormous uncertainty that has Americans on edge, that has Americans understanding that they could lose their jobs, they could have their wages or their hours cut, and they could lose their health care benefits. And that's happening to a lot of people.

And we have to remember, the body that has acted now to prevent a shutdown, to fund government, is the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives has said, "Let's fund government and not Obamacare. That's what the American people want." Almost 1.6 million people have gone to DontFundIt.com just in the last few weeks to register their concern about this law. The American people are calling for this. And the House has acted; the Senate now needs to do its job and follow suit.

DAVID GREGORY:

But Senator Lee, you haven't answered--

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR:

David.

DAVID GREGORY:

I mean, you're campaigning for this, which I understand. That's your prerogative. You don't really have the support. And what I'm wondering is why focus on this issue to the exclusion of, say, tax reform? I know you've actually proposed something on that. But as a group, why focus so narrowly on Obamacare, which your own colleagues are saying publicly and privately is not going to be dismantled? Even Rand Paul, while he supports de-funding, says in the end it's not going to be repealed.

SENATOR MIKE LEE:

Well, look, that's shifting too. As recently as a week or two ago, people were saying the House of Representatives would not pass something that funded government while de-funding Obamacare. That turned out not to be true. Weeks before that, people were saying it wasn't even legally possible to de-fund Obamacare through a continuing resolution. And now the House of Representatives has passed something that does exactly that.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, Senator Klobuchar--

SENATOR MIKE LEE:

The American people are with us--

DAVID GREGORY:

--your comment?

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR:

David--

SENATOR MIKE LEE:

They're calling for this.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR:

Well, what I can tell you is 58% of Independents have said that they don't want to de-fund Obamacare if it means shutting down the government. That is a poll from Karl Rove. The people I was with yesterday, the 5,000 people that were there to march to cure Alzheimer's, you want to tell them that their loved ones who have Alzheimer's are going to be delayed in getting a cure or treatment because the government is going to shut down? It makes no sense.

And I come from a state that is a high quality, low cost health care state. And we want to see those kinds of reforms, that we see at the Mayo Clinic, go across the country. We do not want to re-litigate the battles of Obamacare again. The House and Senate passed it; the president signed it into law.

DAVID GREGORY:

So here's--

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR:

The court upheld it. And will there be changes in the future? Yes. But the answer is not to de-fund it on a bill--

DAVID GREGORY:

But here's what the House--

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR:

--that will shut the government down.

DAVID GREGORY:

--is poised to do next, as you both know, which is to now get to the debt limit. What we're talking about now is funding the government. If you don't do it by the end of the month, possible shutdown. That's a separate matter from raising the debt limit, which you have to do--

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

That's correct.

DAVID GREGORY:

--to pay the bills for the appropriations that Congress has made. The House, I'm told, wants to pass a bill that would delay Obamacare by a year and make that part of an agreement to raise the debt limit. Congresswoman, the president says he's not going to negotiate with Congress over the debt limit. Do you think in the end he's going to have to? There's not support for raising the debt limit right now, is there?

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

First of all, we must pay our bills. We're not a deadbeat nation. This should not be held as a bargaining chip, it should not be held hostage. We've raised the debt limit over 40--

DAVID GREGORY:

Right, but you--

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

--times now.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yes, but do you have the votes to raise it right now? I mean, that's--

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

Right now--

DAVID GREGORY:

--the question, without doing something?

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

Well, the president has not said he would not do something with regard to the budget. He is not going to negotiate on something that should not have to be negotiated about, and that's raising the debt ceiling.

DAVID GREGORY:

But--

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

Well--

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

We've got to pay our bills.

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

In the past, and here's a list of all the times that Congress has worked with the commander-in-chief to raise the debt limit and institute some serious budget reforms.

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

But that was not held--

(OVERTALK)

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

--as a bargaining chip.

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

--that would delay it for one year. And one of the things we want to make certain we do is prohibit all the taxes. Senator Klobuchar's state, with all of the medical devices, that's a 2.3%--

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

But in these instances--

--they were not held hostage. It was not a bargaining chip--

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

Nobody's talking about holding--

CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA LEE:

--that had nothing to do with raising the debt ceiling

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

--hostage. We're talking about making certain that we get the--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, well, the--

CONGRESSWOMAN MARSHA BLACKBURN:

--spending under control.

DAVID GREGORY:

--disagreement continues. One last question, Senator Klobuchar. Bottom line: Will there be an agreement on raising the debt limit, despite the fact that the president would not like to negotiate about it?

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR:

I believe that there will be an agreement, and I think we can do it without any of these extraneous partisan poison pills because the American people remember what happened back in 2011. We had our credit rating reduced, and it cost us $1.3 billion in extra borrowing costs. This is money taxpayers have to pay. This is affecting families and real people. And that's why I think in the end this gamesmanship has to end, and we have to get on the real business of the American people. And that's why I think, in the end, we will move on and negotiate a real long-term budget that's balanced.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. This debate is just getting started; you're getting a sense of that here this morning.

THANK YOU TO ALL

COMING UP: THE GUN DEBATE

ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING - THIS TIME IN CONGRESS'S OWN BACK YARD - WILL IT CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT THE GUN DEBATE? THE NRA'S WAYNE LAPIERRE IS HERE EXCLUSIVELY...PLUS - THE RESPONSE FROM A GUN CONTROL ACTIVIST WHOSE DAUGHTER WAS A VICTIM IN THE MOVIE THEATER SHOOTING IN AURORA COLORADO -

AND LATER - OUR POLITICAL ROUNDTABLE: BILL KRISTOL, TAVIS SMILEY, ROBERT GIBBS AND KIM STRASSEL...THEY'LL EVALUATE THE PRESIDENT'S LEADERSHIP IN HIS FIGHT FOR OBAMACARE AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS AS WELL.

WE'RE BACK RIGHT AFTER THIS...

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

We are back. That was the president last night at a dinner here in Washington for the Congressional Black Caucus. Joining me now, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre. Mr. LaPierre, welcome back to Meet the Press.

WAYNE LAPIERRE:

Thank you, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

Is this the new normal? Another mass shooting; a former New York City police commissioner described it that way. The president talked about almost a routine that the country goes through after these horrific acts. Is that what we're forced to live with at this point?

WAYNE LAPIERRE:

Well, let's talk about this week. David, this is a tragedy that should not have happened, a memorial service that should not be taking place, and victims that should not be victims. In a post-9/11 world, a naval base within miles from Congress, the White House, seven miles from here, largely left unprotected. A terrorist target, a high-value terrorist target completely unprotected. That can't stand. N.R.A. is calling today for layers of security around our military bases.

And the other thing we need to take a look at is all these brave men and women that are trained in firearms, that signed up to serve in the military, they're largely disarmed on our military bases. We need to look at letting the men and women that know firearms and are trained in them do what they do best, which is protect and survive.

DAVID GREGORY:

This is similar; after Newtown you were outspoken in saying that more security was the answer. This is what you said after that massacre.

[TAPE:

WAYNE LAPIERRE: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." END]

DAVID GREGORY:

This was the Navy Yard. There were armed guards there, Mr. LaPierre. Does that not undermine your argument?

WAYNE LAPIERRE:

No, the whole country, David, knows the problem is there weren't enough good guys with guns. When the good guys with guns got there, it stopped. I mean, what really happened here, the mental health situation in the country is in complete breakdown.

DAVID GREGORY:

And I do want to get to that. But let's just focus on the security aspect because can it be the sliding scale where you do have armed guards there, but now there's not enough armed guards? And when it comes to schools, if only we had an armed guard, and then we had teachers who had weapons, then we could stop it. I mean, where does it stop?

WAYNE LAPIERRE:

How could anybody look at what happened this week and say there was enough security there? I mean, there was one guy, a private security firm. God bless him, he ran toward the fire. There were six others there that were guarding the gates. The Capitol Hill SWAT team was told to stand down. Where's the outrage about that? The radios didn't work.

We need to turn seven minutes' response, we need to turn 30 minutes before they bring down the shooter into seven seconds and 30 seconds. That's what we need to be doing, and that's what I'm talking about with armed response. There's not a homeowner in northern Virginia that, if somebody's breaking in their door, would be satisfied with 30 minutes.

DAVID GREGORY:

You just heard the president basically saying, "We've got to keep the fight up for gun restrictions." Is the gun control debate over?

WAYNE LAPIERRE:

David, you know, all the outrage this week the first two days, of the elite media and the politicians trying to stir this toward firearms; the outrage ought to be placed on an unprotected naval base; on a criminal justice system, in Chicago, that doesn't even enforce the federal gun laws (and we could dramatically cut violence); on a mental health system that is completely broken; on a check system that is a complete joke in terms of stopping the bad guys. And a criminal justice system in this country-- just this past week, because of budget collapse, they're releasing 23,000 people back to the streets in Los Angeles, a lot of them violent and a lot of them sex offenders. That's where the outrage of the American public is.

DAVID GREGORY:

Can I ask you about mental health, because it seems so very difficult. And as someone who represents a group keenly interested in protecting core rights, there are also the rights of individuals when it comes to involuntarily committing them to a mental institution because of mental illness. Look at the timeline for the shooter here, Aaron Alexis, where he's just under the radar.

In May of 2004, he's arrested for shooting tires out in Seattle. September 2010, he's arrested after he fired a bullet through his ceiling in Fort Worth. August 2013, called police in Newport, Rhode Island, told them that he was hearing voices in his head. Apparently, they were so concerned about him at work that they call his mother but they don't actually call the Navy. Should someone who's showing any signs of mental illness like that be able to purchase a gun?

WAYNE LAPIERRE:

They need to be committed is what they need to be, and if they're committed they're not at the naval yard. Look, I've been into this whole check business for 20-some years. I've said the system's broken for 20 years and nobody listens. It's broken in terms of our military bases at checks.

On the gun check? The N.R.A. supported the gun check because we thought the mental records would be in the system, we thought criminals would be in the system, and we thought people would be prosecuted. We're in a situation now where the criminal records aren't in the system, the mental records, even those adjudicated dangerous, are not in the system. And nobody's prosecuted.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

I mean, I take your point. But--

WAYNE LAPIERRE:

But here's what happens: So the Aurora shooter in Colorado gets checked, and is cleared. The Tucson shooter gets checked and gets cleared. Aaron Alexis goes to the federal and state check and gets cleared because the mental health system makes this person completely unrecognizable.

DAVID GREGORY:

But I'm asking what the N.R.A. would support. In other words, you're saying, in Florida for instance, if you were voluntarily committed to a mental health institution, that you would support barring gun purchases. Do I have that right?

WAYNE LAPIERRE:

I think if they adjudicate you, like Virginia's done now, where if you're involuntary committed or if the mental health people say you're dangerous, you need to be in the system. And--

DAVID GREGORY:

Can there be a lower--

WAYNE LAPIERRE:

--we're not right now.

DAVID GREGORY:

--threshold, though, that you could support? Where there's some evidence of mental illness that would say, "Let's do whatever we can to reduce the carnage and try to stop sales"?

WAYNE LAPIERRE:

Yes. Let's do whatever we can. Let's fix this broken system right now which nobody wants to fix. I'll tell you what's going to happen: We're going to have this discussion today; it's on other channels. When the camera goes off, nobody's going to do anything.

And if we leave these homicidal maniacs on the street, they don't obey the law, they could care less about it, they're going to kill. The only way you can stop them is they send up the red flags. It's practically like a plane going down the beach with a sign behind it saying, "I'm dangerous," and we leave them on the streets.

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to show you a piece of tape in just a second. Let me set it up here. We asked people on Facebook, "What would you like to ask Wayne LaPierre?" You know, there are so many people who oppose you and the N.R.A. because they say, look, the vast majority of Americans support gun rights legislation. You successfully recalled two state legislators in Colorado who supported additional restrictions. Here was a victim at Virginia Tech who was on with my colleague, Andrea Mitchell, this week. And he asked you this question; I want to give you the opportunity to respond. I want to play that for you.

[TAPE:

COLIN GODDARD, MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS: I'D ASK WAYNE, LOOK, LET'S TALK ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A RESPONSIBLE GUN OWNER. DO YOU THINK AS A RESPONSIBLE HUMAN BEING THAT IF YOU SELL A GUN TO SOMEBODY YOU DON'T KNOW, THAT YOU SHOULD REQUIRE A BACKGROUND CHECK TO MAKE SURE THEY CAN LEGALLY OWN IT?]

WAYNE LAPIERRE:

Private sales between hunters, hunter to a hunter in another state, a farmer to a farmer shotgun, no, I don't believe you ought to be under the thumb of the federal government. But that's what's wrong with this town, David. Here we have a military base completely unprotected, we have a mental system that's completely broken down, they're trafficking in 13-year-old girls down the street, there's all kinds of drugs, all kinds of guns, and the priority of this town is, "Hey, do you think a hunter that sells a gun to a hunter in Kansas ought to have to be under the thumb of the federal government?" No.

I'll tell you what the N.R.A.'s for: Interdict, incarcerate violent criminals. Get them off the street. Indict people that are having mental problems; get them into treatment. Enforce the federal gun laws. If there's a drug dealer with a gun in Chicago, 100% of the time federal law, Eric Holder, prosecute them. Fix the mental health system and let's get our fiscal house into order so that we can stop releasing the bad guys back to the street.

DAVID GREGORY:

This debate will continue. We always appreciate your views and answering questions here.

Coming up, WE'RE GOING TO GET A RESPONSE TO THE VIEWS OF THE NRA FROM A WOMAN WHO KNOWS THE PAIN OF THESE MASS SHOOTINGS FIRST HAND.

SANDY PHILLIPS'S DAUGHTER WAS KILLED IN THE IN THE AURORA COLORADO MOVIE THEATER SHOOTING LAST YEAR. THE FIGHT FOR TIGHTER GUN RESTRICTIONS HAS BECOME HER LIFE'S WORK. SHE JOINS ME NEXT.

ALSO - OUR ROUNDTABLE IS AHEAD - AS WELL AS OUR POLITICAL DIRECTOR CHUCK TODD WITH HIS FIRST READ SUNDAY - A LOOK AHEAD AT THE WEEK IN POLITICS INCLUDING A BIG MEETING OF POTENTIAL PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDERS IN NEW YORK. MORE ON THAT LATER. WE'RE BACK IN MOMENT

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

You just heard from the N.R.A. and Wayne LaPierre. I want to turn now to Sandy Phillips. She has become an activist for gun reform since her daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was killed in the Aurora, Colorado, shooting. Ghawi was just 24 years old when the alleged shooter there, James Holmes, shot and killed her and 11 others last year in a packed movie theatre.

Phillips went to Newtown, Connecticut, with her husband earlier this year to lend support to the families whose lives were shattered by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. This week, one day after the Navy Yard shooting, she was in Washington to lobby Congress for more gun restrictions, and Sandy Phillips is with me now. Welcome to the program.

SANDY PHILLIPS:

Thank you, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

I have to ask you, when you were here and you heard about what happened at the Navy Yard, can you describe your reaction to it?

SANDY PHILLIPS:

Well, David, anytime you've been a victim of gun violence like we have, when you hear news like that it takes you right back to what happened when you heard your news. And unfortunately, we got our news in the middle of the night from the young man that was with my daughter, who called me from inside the theatre 20 minutes after I had been talking to my daughter, and told me, with screaming going on in the background, that my daughter was dead.

And we later found out that she was shot six times and her brains were blown out, and Jessie laying on that cold theatre floor. That's the vision I wake up with every morning and go to bed with every night, and now there were 12 more people here in D.C. that have that same nightmare day in and day out. Wish I could tell them that it gets easier in time, but it doesn't.

DAVID GREGORY:

And what you have dedicated your life to now, both you and your husband--

SANDY PHILLIPS:

Yes.

DAVID GREGORY:

--trying to get some gun restrictions to prevent these kinds of massacres. You hear from Wayne LaPierre; the N.R.A. has been successful in blocking a lot of those efforts. I asked him is the gun control debate over? Do you fear that all we're left to do is sort of wait for the next one to happen now?

SANDY PHILLIPS:

Well, it took six votes over seven years to get the initial Brady law passed, and Sarah and Jim Brady didn't give up. And those of us who are involved, and unfortunately our numbers are growing, we're not giving up. It will happen. We need to expand those background checks so this kind of thing doesn't continue to happen. We need to give our law enforcement the tools that they need to get that job done.

DAVID GREGORY:

But do you agree with any element of what he said? Is more security the answer, on bases, for example, or in other public places?

SANDY PHILLIPS:

More guns, that's certainly not the answer. More guns, more people that may be triggered by violence, predisposition to it anyway, just muddies the issue.

DAVID GREGORY:

What is the most effective response to a series of massacres where mental health seems to be at the centerpiece? Our inability to reach people who are on this verge of violence and stop them, when we know the means of violence are everywhere. There's 300 million guns in this gonna.

SANDY PHILLIPS:

Well, the worst part of all of this, in my opinion, is with background checks, expanded background checks, we're going to close a lot of those gaps in our system, especially online sales, and the gun show loopholes that still exist. If you can do that, then it doesn't matter if someone is not as shall we say if they're predisposed to violence.

If you can stop that, and have that put into the system-- the system can only work as well as what's put into the system. So, yes, we have to look at the entire comprehensive approach. But what the background checks, that's the first step, and 90% of Americans want them, and over 70% of LaPierre's members want them. So it's not a hard fix.

DAVID GREGORY:

Just a couple seconds left. Your advice to those who are going through the grief that you went through, after this shooting this week?

SANDY PHILLIPS:

My heart breaks for them. Again, I'd like to say it's something that eases in time. Their lives are never going to be the same. I hope that they choose to get involved with us, but that takes time. Hopefully there won't be a whole lot more people joining us on this path.

DAVID GREGORY:

Sandy Phillips, thank you so much for being here. I'm so sorry for your loss that unfortunately have to relive through moments like this.

COMING UP... OUR POLITICAL ROUNDTABLE ON THE SHOWDOWN POLITICS OVER OBAMACARE, PRESIDENTIAL LEADERSHIP ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AND THE AFTERMATH OF THE NAVY YARD SHOOTING.

JOINING ME: BILL KRISTOL, TRAVIS SMILEY, ROBERT GIBBS, AND KIM STRASSEL - BACK IN 90 SECONDS

(***Commercial Break***)

GREGORY:

I want to start with our roundtable on shutdown politics. Bill Kristol, Robert Gibbs, here we go again. So who's up and who's down, and does this get averted, Bill?

BILL KRISTOL:

I think it probably gets averted, at least for now. I think the House Republicans are up suddenly, after a few weeks of disarray. They actually passed a bill to keep the government going, and took out Obamacare. So the ball's in the Senate's court, and though the media can say, "Ooh, those House Republicans are in disarray," but only one body has actually passed a continuing resolution to keep government open. That's the House, controlled by the Republicans. The Senate has done nothing. Nothing. One week till the end of the fiscal year, the Democratically-controlled Senate has passed no continuing resolution and no appropriations bills.

ROBERT GIBBS:

I think the Wall Street Journal summed this up perfectly this week, and that is kamikaze missions are rarely successful, least of all for the pilots. And if you think about this from the White House perspective, you've had three fairly forgettable weeks at the White House, right? About to lose a vote on Syria; immigration reform looks dead; you're sinking in quicksand. And here, your enemies throw you the rope and want to get in the quicksand instead of you. I think you can see from your interview with the Republicans, they have a strategy on how to do one bill, and they have no real clue as to what the next step is in that strategy.

KIM STRASSEL:

I don't know if that's exactly the case. Look, the art of winning the political battle is exerting leverage on the other side. You get them to do what you want them to do. The problem with the de-fund Obamacare movement so far is in that they're holding government shutdown as their leverage. But they've sort of been saying, given that that could hurt them if it actually happens, they've sort of been saying, "Give us what we want or we're going to shoot ourselves in the foot."

Now, coming forward, if Senator Reid ends up sending back a clean C.R. to the House, the question for Republicans is are there not in fact better means of exerting pressure on Democrats and forcing them, testing the outer boundaries of their support for the law? And there are ways that you can do that.

You can look about delaying the individual mandate, something that dozens of House Democrats have already voted for, and that the White House has a very difficult time explaining, given their other exemptions. There is this talk about the congressional exemption that the White House gave to members of Congress, and whether or not you could put that in there and put some pressure on Democrats to make some changes in the law. It's about what comes next.

TAVIS SMILEY:

I've never seen a party so hell-bent on self-immolation, on self-destruction. And I, quite frankly, don't get it. As imperfect as Obamacare is, this political posturing and point scoring about de-funding it is not the answer. The case has already been made that it's been passed. It's been upheld by Congress. And, again, this doesn't make, I think, much sense to the American people.

The real problem here is, and I clearly am not a Republican, but the point is that I think our country works best when there's a strong two-party system. And I think that the Republicans are doing themselves, and quite frankly the country, a disservice if this is how they want to self-destruct. We need a strong two-party system in this country, and if you're just going to wipe yourself out, shoot yourself in the foot, shoot yourself in the head, then I think you're hurting not just yourself but the country.

(OVERTALK)

BILL KRISTOL:

It's nice that Tavis and Robert are so concerned about the Republican Party. If they--

DAVID GREGORY:

They are very concerned.

KIM STRASSEL:

Of course.

BILL KRISTOL:

--could just have some data. I mean, there is this thing called the generic congressional ballot, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, other polls tested. Hasn't changed at all in three or four months. President Obama's job approval down several--

TAVIS SMILEY:

Well, but, Bill, you can't--

BILL KRISTOL:

--points, over three points. I'm not making a political point, I'm just saying as of now all this talk about, "Oh my God, those Republicans look horrible," there's no empirical data. The public doesn't like Obama. If--

KIM STRASSEL:

That's right.

BILL KRISTOL:

--they can take--

ROBERT GIBBS:

There's not--

BILL KRISTOL:

If they can move beyond de-funding to delaying particular parts of Obamacare, especially the unpopular parts like an individual mandate--

ROBERT GIBBS:

Just to be clear--

(OVERTALK)

BILL KRISTOL:

--or the congressional exemption, that's a good debate for Republicans.

ROBERT GIBBS:

Just to be clear: There's not one poll that shows that this is a smart strategy. And look, General Custer, if you--

KIM STRASSEL:

The tactics--

ROBERT GIBBS:

--want to go, I'm loathe to hold you back.

KIM STRASSEL:

The tactic. But Bill is absolutely right: There isn't one poll that shows that Americans approve, as majority, of this health care law. And there are plenty of things that--

ROBERT GIBBS:

But I said there's not a--

KIM STRASSEL:

--they would like to-- no, I know.

ROBERT GIBBS:

--there's not one poll that says we should hold government, the running of government, hostage--

BILL KRISTOL:

Well, they just didn't.

ROBERT GIBBS:

--for the de-funding of Obamacare.

BILL KRISTOL:

And you know what? They just didn't hold it hostage.

DAVID GREGORY:

But--

BILL KRISTOL:

They just authorized funding for the--

(OVERTALK)

TAVIS SMILEY:

But this is the problem: Whenever we have these Sunday morning chats, it's always about what's been poll tested. It's always about putting our finger up to the wind. Sometimes doing the right thing means--

BILL KRISTOL:

I agree.

TAVIS SMILEY:

--doing the difficult thing. And sometimes you have to lead-- I think you always have to lead by a certain set of immutable principles. Civil rights at one point wasn't the right thing for this country to do. It wasn't passing the polls, Bill, and yet it was the right thing to do.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah, but Republicans--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--believe that Obamacare is just horrible. I mean, that's the--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--philosophical thing. They believe that.

KIM STRASSEL:

But most Americans do too.

TAVIS SMILEY:

Republicans believe that Obama is horrible. A lot of this is about one simple thing: Obstruct Obama.

(OVERTALK)

BILL KRISTOL:

--they voted against it.

KIM STRASSEL:

That's correct.

BILL KRISTOL:

If Nancy Pelosi or John Kerry were president, Republicans would have voted against Kerrycare or Pelosicare. It's not personal to President Obama.

ROBERT GIBBS:

But it's beyond--

KIM STRASSEL:

We also go back though--

ROBERT GIBBS:

--this issue.

KIM STRASSEL:

--to bring in another element to this. One of the reasons that the Senate has not in fact acted in any way to fund government is because right now there really is no Democratic vote for a clean C.R. And the reason why--

DAVID GREGORY:

You can't keep saying C.R. I'm going to fall off--

(OVERTALK)

KIM STRASSEL:

--a clean funding of government bill.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah, there we go.

KIM STRASSEL:

In that they think that the sequester levels are too low, and so they're willing to shut down the government for the right to be able to spend more money.

DAVID GREGORY:

I'd like to clarify some points here too for the audience, beyond C.R., in the fact that we're talking about the specter of a government shutdown is separate from raising the debt limit. And I guess, Robert, you know, the issue is, given what the White House went through in 2011, it hurt the White House, it hurt the president, and it hurt Republicans to be flirting with not raising the debt limit.

Here we go again, so the president says, "Look, just not going to negotiate on this." The problem is, where are the votes for it? He can't get a vote in the Congress right now to raise the debt limit without giving something, can he?

ROBERT GIBBS:

Yes, it's going the be an interesting test. I think the outcome of that isn't honestly known. I do think the specter of how this might tinker with the economy is certainly one that's out there. But, look, I think the results of this are unknown, and we have seen that these sort of messy fights are very dis-consonant with people in real America because they don't understand why people can't sit down at a table and come to some reasonable resolution of these problems.

DAVID GREGORY:

But there's a big fight about government here too, Tavis. You were concerned, as were others, about the vote on food stamps this work. This is about size, scope, the direction of government. In the Republican Party, this is going to become a big campaign issue. It's going to be in 2014, but it's also for those who want to run for president in 2016; the question will be, "Where were you on Obamacare?"

TAVIS SMILEY:

I think not just the Republicans; I think that this country is facing a similar moment that we have to make a decision about what kind of nation and what kind of people we're going to be. The president recently, much to my chagrin, advanced once again this notion of American exceptionalism. And clearly, he isn't the only one in this town who likes to push that notion that we, as Americans are exceptional.

The reality is that this week alone gives us all the evidence we need to push back, to question that particular claim. When Republicans want to shut down the government over political posturing, when you can kill innocence children at Sandy Hook and there's no real gun control debate, those who we are supposed to protect, our babies. And now you can you fire indiscriminately on those who protect us.

And nobody at this table believes that a real gun control debate's going to come out of this. All this other stuff is going to push it to the side. And it's not just mental illness that's the real issue, but in North Carolina you got this brother Jonathan Ferrell, this black guy, who's running toward the police, asking for help, and they shoot and they kill him? Congress has a 6% approval rating, and the answer really is to shut it down? I mean, what kind of nation are we going to be, what kind of people are we going to be? Very quickly. If we don't course-correct soon, we are going to lose our democracy. It's that serious.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. Let me get a break in here.

COMING UP: NEWS THIS MORNING ... HILLARY CLINTON WEIGHS IN ON HER DECISION ON WHETHER TO RUN IN 2016 - MORE WITH OUR ROUNDTABLE AFTER THIS SHORT BREAK.

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

We're back with our group. Syria, now Iran. Is there a breakthrough here? Bill Kristol doesn't think so. You wrote this, this week, in the Weekly Standard. "Syria is merely act one; next week, act two opens at the United Nations. There we'll see a charm offense worthy of Richard III by a new Iranian president, and veteran deceiver of the west, Hassan Rouhani. In response, the Obama administration will move on from punting in Syria to appeasing Iran. The diplomatic dance with Iran will be long and complex, but who doubts that the people will end up where Iran, the leading partner, wants to go?"

Bill, the counterpoint to that is maybe these openings are happening because Obama threatened a military strike, and he's actually tough, and that's what the Russians and the Iranians and the Syrians think.

BILL KRISTOL:

Yeah, I don't think the Russians or the Iranians or the Syrians were very impressed by President Obama's-- what happened to that military strike on Syria? He didn't do it. Then he went to Congress, then he couldn't get support from Congress. And now Assad is in power, killing people, and has paid no price of course for using chemical weapons. And we'll see if these chemical weapons ever leave Syria. So I think it's a very bad precedent.

I do think the Obama administration thinks that's a template for how to go on to a diplomatic path, kick the can down the road, not have to make any tough decisions. And figure that maybe you can kick the can far enough down the road that the next administration has to deal with a civil war that, by then, will have killed 200,000 people in Syria and Iran, that is even closer to or maybe has nuclear weapons capability.

ROBERT GIBBS:

The one thing I think that Bill doesn't put into the equation is clearly economic sanctions imposed over the course of many years have had a big impact on the Iranian economy. And that puts big pressure on leaders to do something. And I think, look, we will get an opportunity to see this week-- and everyone should press the Iranians on just how serious they might be. We have seen them before say they might want to have conversations, but never move to the next step. And I think it's certainly worth, as we hold strong economic sanctions and the threat of military force, see if they're willing to come--

DAVID GREGORY:

To this side of the table, I want to ask about Hillary Clinton. If we're talking about presidential leadership, we're still sort of taking her measure and her presidential timbre. She has an interview with New York magazine that's come out this morning, and here's a piece of what she said with regard to timing. "I'm not in any hurry," Kim Strassel, she says. "I think it's a serious decision not to be made lightly, but it's also not one that has to be made soon." True?

KIM STRASSEL:

"And one that needs to be made in the public eye as often as I can." I mean, Hillary Clinton, ever since she lost back in 2008, has been positioning herself to do exactly this move. And, you know, going off to be secretary of State, putting herself in and out of the public eye. So we're going to be hearing a lot from Hillary Clinton other than what her decision is, but she's going to make sure that she is out there with interviews like this all the time, just keeping herself in the public eye.

TAVIS SMILEY:

She has time to make that decision. I suspect that we will get that decision. I don't know how you can have this many people pulling for you to run, whether you can win or not, and not run. So, I mean--

DAVID GREGORY:

Does she stay close to President Obama, or does she need separation from President Obama to be effective?

TAVIS SMILEY:

I think the answer's yes and no. It depends on the issue we're talking about. Timing is everything in this town.

DAVID GREGORY:

Robert, what do you think about this?

ROBERT GIBBS:

Well, look, she should be in no rush to make this decision. She is far ahead, much farther ahead now than she was, in a better political position than she was in '07 and '08. If you get into the fray at this point, your approval ratings and your favorability will quickly come down. If I were her, I would take the time. Think about the ideas that she wants to move forward. Not Bill Clinton's ideas, not Barack Obama's ideas. Yes, they have to be Hillary Clinton's.

KIM STRASSEL:

Also, it's not as if there's anyone nipping at her heels. I mean, she doesn't have to position herself because there isn't a very big Democratic field.

DAVID GREGORY:

Do you think she's vulnerable, from the Republican side?

BILL KRISTOL:

I think she's more vulnerable, even in the Democratic primary, than people think. I think a populous Midwesterner running against Obama administration crony capitalism would have some real following in the Democratic Party. And I think she's a good candidate for Republicans to run against. Let her defend the foreign policy that she presided over for four years as secretary of State. And I think actually a younger Republican, a governor who's governed effectively on conservative principles, would be a good contrast--

TAVIS SMILEY:

But most of--

BILL KRISTOL:

--to Hillary Clinton.

TAVIS SMILEY:

--that foreign policy, Republicans agreed with though.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, I'm going to leave it there. Thanks to all of you.

COMING UP CHUCK TODD IS HERE WITH FIRST READ SUNDAY - A LOOK AT THE BIG WEEK AHEAD IN POLITICS...

(***Commerical Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

Apple and BlackBerry, a tale of two companies with very different stories this week. Apple, as you know, launched two new iPhones while BlackBerry announced that it's planning to cut 40% of its workforce. And it looks like Congress is reflecting that trend. Our Meet the Press intern surveyed the offices of every member of the House, and in total we found that members of Congress use iPhones more than twice as much as BlackBerry. 58% to 23%.

We've posted more about our survey exclusively on ZBOX. If you haven't already, download the ZBOX app for your mobile device so you can join the conversation online. There's a link on our website, MeetThePressNBC.com. Apparently, we don't have the numbers for people like me who use both.

WE'RE BACK IN MOMENT WITH CHUCK TODD'S FIRST READ SUNDAY AND IMAGES TO REMEMBER.

(***Commerical Break***)

[“Images to Remember” segment]

DAVID GREGORY:

Go Dodger blue. I personally, Chuck Todd, asked for that picture to be in there. But we should also congratulate the Red Sox. They were last, last year, and they just won their division.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm just glad we did that to the snakes. Remember the massive brawl in mid-June--

DAVID GREGORY:

Yes, that's right.

CHUCK TODD:

--that they started. Darn right we're going to celebrate in their pool.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, our First Read Sunday. You're looking at a big week at the United Nations. Iran and the United States; we talked about it in the roundtable. What are we going to see here?

CHUCK TODD:

There's going to be a symbolic reward by the Obama administration in some form for Rouhani's tone change from Ahmadinejad. The question is, is that a handshake in the hall? Is it a pull aside that it actually is the president and Rouhani, or is it something else? But there is a symbolic reward, but there's still some wariness there. And they're being a little bit careful about going too much in and buying into Rouhani.

DAVID GREGORY:

You're also this week looking carefully at the governors' races in this country. It's going to be a big part of the midterm race. In Virginia, you will be moderating a debate between Cuccinelli and McAuliffe. This is a tough race.

CHUCK TODD:

It is. It's become character versus ideology. Cuccinelli trying to attack McAuliffe's character; McAuliffe running against Cuccinelli ideology. We expect it to be a pretty nasty debate, so I'm going to borrow your flak jacket.

DAVID GREGORY:

The R.N.C. is pulling out some big guns, the Republican Party, to raise money for the party. So it's not just the president relying on celebrities to sell Obamacare, Republicans are doing it too.

CHUCK TODD:

They are, and it's a who's who of basically the 2016 field. You could argue that the nominee is likely from this group that's going to be at this fundraiser, co-hosted by Woody Johnson, owner focus the Jets, big financial backer of Mitt Romney. But look at this list, from Chris Christie, of course, who's Woody Johnson's favorite of these six, but Rand Paul, Marco Rubio. So bringing in both sides of the party, establishment, little bit of Tea Party, libertarian wing. Be interesting to see how gets the most juice among these big donors.

DAVID GREGORY:

Just a couple seconds. There is no momentum, is there, for gun control moving forward? Do you see it anywhere?

CHUCK TODD:

Not at all. Maybe you'll see some tightening of the mental health bills or, frankly, you'll see Congress probably mess around more with the contractor law.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. Chuck Todd, big week ahead. Thanks very much for being here.

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