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Rep.-elect Jason Crow sees ‘a tipping point’ for American gun violence

As America reels from yet another shooting massacre, less than two weeks after one at a Pittsburgh synagogue, scrutiny of our gun policies persists. Rep.-elect Jason Crow, D-Co., this week won election to a Colorado district that includes Aurora, site of a mass shooting in 2012. He speaks with Judy Woodruff about the “common sense” gun regulations for which he advocated during his campaign.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    After last night's shooting in California, we return to the issue of gun violence with a newly elected member of Congress, Democrat Jason Crow.

    Crow won his election on Tuesday night in part because of his stance on gun control. His Republican opponent, the incumbent Congressman Mike Coffman, on the other hand, was a top recipient of NRA donations. The district Crow will now represent is the site of the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting in 2012.

    Congressman-elect Jason Crow joins me now.

    First of all, congratulations on your win, Jason Crow.

    Given what has happened just overnight in California, and given the fact that gun violence was part of your campaign, you must have thoughts on what happened last night.

  • Rep.-Elect Jason Crow, D-Colo.:

    Of course.

    I mean, it seems like this happens now every few weeks. The pace of these mass shootings are accelerating. It's happening more and more. We seem to be getting desensitized to it.

    And we're going to continue to push back. And I have made this a part of my campaign because I'm frankly not willing to sit back and let this become a new normal. This isn't OK for anybody.

    I have young children. And there wasn't a week that went by on the campaign where kids and parents and teachers didn't come to me and express concern about this issue.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Why was it important to you to talk about?

  • Rep.-Elect Jason Crow, D-Colo.:

    Well, I'm a first-time candidate. I had never run before. I'm a father. I'm an Army Ranger. And I grew up hunting deer and duck and rabbit when I was 12, and growing up.

    And I became an Army Ranger. I used weapons of war at war, and I had them used against me. I know what they're capable of.

    But way before my political career started, and way after it's going to be done, I'm going to be a father. And when my 5-year-old daughter comes home from school and talks to me about the bad guy drills that she has to have now, and how they have to hide in dark closets, I'm not OK with that. I'm not OK with that being the environment that we raise our children in.

    And if our leaders aren't willing to do something about it, I was willing to step up and lead from the front.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What do you think is realistic that could be done? I mean, we know members of Congress have tried time and again to pass stricter gun control legislation.

    They have had a very difficult time doing that. We mentioned the NRA and other gun rights groups, they given a lot of money. In fact, both sides have been spending a lot of money, both gun control and gun rights.

    What makes you think now is the time to pass gun control legislation?

  • Rep.-Elect Jason Crow, D-Colo.:

    I do think we have reached a tipping point on that issue in America.

    Certainly, the Parkland shooting, I think, was a shift in momentum. You see that there's now a sustained conversation and momentum around the country on commonsense gun violence prevention.

    So I think there's a lot of things we can do that respect the culture and heritage of responsible gun ownership in America and respect the Second Amendment, but also say, you know, there's a lot of things that need to get done.

    You know, Colorado is actually a very good example of a state that led on this. After the Aurora theater shooting, which had a devastating impact on my district and community, we led and we passed universal background checks in Colorado.

    And since those background checks were passed, over 400 people have been prevented from buying firearms that shouldn't have them. So people still are able to own firearms for home defense and recreation and in hunting. But those people that shouldn't have them don't have them because we have universal background checks.

    And the vast majority of Americans are behind those type of commonsense measures.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Jason Crow, again, congressman-elect, we know that, yes, gun control was — it worked out to be a good issue for you.

    But we also know that gun rights, on the other hand, seemed to help a number of Republican — particularly candidates for the Senate this year. So this is not going to be a free ride in any regard on this issue. There is a strong body of opinion in this country that there shouldn't be gun control.

  • Rep.-Elect Jason Crow, D-Colo.:

    Well, I certainly understand there are some people that take that position.

    But I think we have to talk about this in the right way. We have to respect each other's views, but try to find that common ground, that middle ground where we can make some progress. And that's what I did on my campaign.

    My campaign is — or my district is not a deep blue district. We have a lot of people that are responsible gun owners. And I engaged with them in a conversation during the campaign about what makes sense and what we can do.

    I think people recognize and appreciate when there are leaders who are willing to have those — those tough, but honest conversations. And if we talk about this in kind of personal terms, I always talked about me being a hunter and an Army Ranger and using military-style assault weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also being a parent.

    So, we have to really humanize this debate and understand what it is we're dealing with and what different people in different communities are dealing with in their community.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, when the other side, the gun rights folks, argue, well, they're just trying to take away your right to have a gun, they're trying to do away with the Second Amendment, what's your answer?

  • Rep.-Elect Jason Crow, D-Colo.:

    It's just not true.

    I have a long history of respecting the Second Amendment and the culture and heritage of responsible gun ownership. I'm a gun owner myself. I still hunt. And, again, I grew up hunting, and I served in Iraq and Afghanistan, led over 100 combat missions, and including special operations missions.

    I understand these firearms well. I engage in recreational firearm use. But we have gone too far as a country. We have over 33,000 people dying a year, a year, on our streets, and in our schools, and in our homes. Enough is enough. There are commonsense things we can do that strike that right balance, that respect, again, the culture and heritage of this country, but will save thousands of lives.

    And I think we have an obligation to do those things.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, very quickly, what's an example of that? Universal background checks? What else?

  • Rep.-Elect Jason Crow, D-Colo.:

    Universal background checks. Magazine limitations, that's another thing that Colorado led on. I would like to see magazine limitations, closing the gun show loophole, and things like no fly, no buy.

    If you're on a terrorist watch list, and you can't board a plane, you shouldn't be able to walk in and buy an AR-15. Again, these are things that won't impact responsible, law-abiding citizens' rights to own firearms, but will make a lot of sense. And they are things that I think we can build a coalition around and get done.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Congressman-Elect Jason Crow, newly elected this week to Congress, joining us from Denver, Colorado, thank you, Congressman.

  • Rep.-Elect Jason Crow, D-Colo.:

    Thank you for having me on.

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