CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The murder weapon. And this is HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in San Francisco. We`ll get to the latest from Charleston in a moment. But first, the president delivered a powerful statement late today to the U.S. Conference of Mayors here in San Francisco. He said it`s not enough to grieve after gun massacres like this, that the public needs to resolve to do something about them. And here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know today`s politics makes it less likely that we see any sort of serious gun safety legislation. I remarked that it was very unlikely that this Congress would act, and some reporters, I think, took this as resignation. I want to be clear. I`m not resigned. I have faith we will eventually do the right thing. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) OBAMA: Every country has violent, hateful or mentally unstable people. What`s different is not every country is awash with easily accessible guns. And so I refuse to act as if this is the new normal or to pretend that it`s simply sufficient to grieve and that any mention of us doing something to stop it is somehow politicizing the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, that was dead right. Anyway, this evening, the people of Charleston have come together for a vigil honoring the nine victims of Wednesday night`s massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. It comes on the same day that the shooter was in court for the first time. Dylann Roof appeared via video for a bond hearing. And in that hearing, with Roof listening, we heard very emotional statements from several of the victims` families. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NADINE COLLIER, DAUGHTER OF VICTIM ETHEL LANCE: To you, I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again! I will never be able to hold her again! But I forgive you! You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. But God forgive you. And I forgive you! FELICIA SANDERS, MOTHER OF VICTIM TYWANZA SANDERS: We welcomed you Wednesday night in our bible study with open arms. You have killed some of the most prayerfulest people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts! And I`ll never be the same. BETHANEE MIDDLETON-BROWN, SISTER OF REV. DEPAYNE MIDDLETON: For me, I`m a work in progress, and I acknowledge that I am very angry. But one thing Depayne has always joined in in our family with, is that she taught me that we are the family that love built! We have no room for hate. So we have to forgive. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, they`re Christian people, of course, then as all Christians know, practicing the best of our religion. Sources told NBC News that Roof, the killer, confessed to the police that he was the killer. He`s confessed now. We`re also getting a first look at what happens -- what appears to be the video taken from inside the church Wednesday night just before the shooting.
If you look at the picture, the man on the right with light hair appears to be Dylann Roof himself. NBC News has not independently verified the video that the Web site Mashable got from one of the victims` friends. Well, according to court documents released today, police say Roof spent an hour at that bible study group before standing up and opening fire on those people. All the victims were shot multiple times, we now know. According to a police affidavit, before leaving, Roof stood over a witness actually and uttered a racially inflammatory statement. MSNBC`s Adam Reiss join us now from Charleston. Adam, thank you for this, for more grim details. Certainly was an emotional day for the family and the community down there, black and white together. ADAM REISS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Certainly. It was an emotional and unusual hearing, as you just heard a little bit, one family after -- one family member after another coming forward saying, We forgive you, we forgive you. You heard that woman say, We just invited you into our bible study, and look at what you did. Every bone in my body, every fiber is hurting today. You killed the most beautiful people I know. May God have mercy on you. I want to, Chris, read to you a statement we just got from the Roof family. It reads, in part, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those killed this week. We have all been touched by the moving words from the victims` families offering God`s forgiveness and love in the face of such horrible suffering." After the hearing, the prosecutor came out. She talked about the investigation, how it will go parallel with the Department of Justice investigation, their hate crimes investigation. They will do it behind the scenes. They want to make sure this prosecution goes smoothly. I also want to mention, Chris, one other item that we learned today. Pastor Pinckney`s wife and youngest daughter were in the church behind me, in an office, under a table, cowering, calling 911. Just the horror of it all -- Chris. MATTHEWS: Let me -- do you know much about this story that`s come out that the killer, Roof, apparently had said to the police that he was at one moment hesitant because the people were so nice to him in the church, hesitant about his decision to go ahead and kill them all? REISS: Yes. After the arrest up in Shelby, North Carolina, he, obviously -- according to officials, he confessed, and then he said he went in there with a plan to kill them, but they were so nice to him that he had second thoughts. He almost got cold feet. But then he had to go ahead with his mission, Chris. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Adam Reiss, for the grim details. They keep coming. This morning, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley told the "TODAY" show she thought the death penalty was the appropriate punishment here. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is a state that is hurt by the fact that nine people innocently (ph) were killed. We absolutely will want him to have the death penalty. This is the worst hate that I`ve seen and that the country has seen in a long time. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: NBC`s Craig Melvin asked Charleston mayor Joseph Riley about the death penalty. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR JOSEPH RILEY (D), CHARLESTON: That`s the law in South Carolina, so it no doubt will be. I personally am not a proponent of the death penalty... CRAIG MELVIN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Even in a case like this? RILEY: Well, I don`t -- I think if you`re going to have a death penalty, then certainly, this case would merit it. I`m of the belief that -- that the death penalty is upholded (ph) in terms of -- I think it, collectively over time, adds to violence. I think people who commit serious crimes should lose their freedom forever. But that`s the law in South Carolina, and no doubt it will be sought. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by Georgetown law professor Paul Butler. Professor, thanks for joining us. You were a former federal prosecutor. Let`s with the state level. Is there anything that would stand in the way of a jury hearing this case and hearing prosecutors calling for the death penalty? Is that what you`d expect here at the state level? PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Absolutely. This is a first degree premeditated murder of nine people -- nine counts. It`s a case where the prosecution almost has to seek the death penalty, politically.
Two things to watch for, Chris. First is whether the prosecutor will consult the families. Many African-Americans are opposed to the death penalty, especially those in the faith community. The second thing is whether this prosecutor would accept a plea agreement, which would be life without parole. The defense would actually consider that a win. MATTHEWS: Yes, I wonder how this guy would fare in prison. What do you think? Not exactly a safe place to be. Anyway, let me ask you about domestic terrorism at the federal level. Once you`ve got a capital crime and a very, you know, available case for the state prosecutors, what would be the relevance of having a federal prosecution on either hate crimes or terrorism charges? BUTLER: There`s really no incentive for hate crimes in this case because, normally, you`d bring those to get a tougher sentence. He`s already looking at either death or life without parole. Domestic terrorism, on the other hand, is defined as someone who commits a crime with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population. I think that fits what this terrorist did. He didn`t just injure nine -- the nine people he killed, although obviously, they suffered the most severe injuries. He injured every African-American person in this country, and that is what his intent was. You know, we charged the Boston Marathon bomber with domestic terrorism. We charged Timothy McVeigh with domestic terrorism. MATTHEWS: Sure. BUTLER: This terrorist is as much a terrorist as they were. MATTHEWS: What do you make of -- terrorism -- obviously, we talk about it all the time. It`s in an attempt to move public opinion, to terrify people, to make them scared to go to the movies, scared to live. How do you scare the African-American community from going to church? I mean, the -- I guess I`m asking the insane question about the insanity of this whole murder. I mean, what are you trying to do to people, saying the best of a community or a church studying the Bible, probably the same religion as this killer, and what we want to do is teach them not to go to church, (INAUDIBLE) teach them to get on a boat and leave the country? What is he trying to terrorize them into doing, the black community in Charleston or anywhere else? What -- you know, terrorism has a purpose. What`s this guy`s?
BUTLER: You know, I don`t even know if it`s worth trying to get into the mind of this racist lunatic. I think that what he deserves is his day in court. He deserves the justice, the full justice of American criminal justice. MATTHEWS: Thanks so much, Professor Paul Butler of Georgetown. Anyway, "Washington Post" opinion writer, my friend, Jonathan Capehart, is here. He`s, of course, a valued MSNBC contributor. What did you make of today, Jonathan? And your perspective. I value it a lot. What do you think of what we all saw, heard and I think felt down there today? JONATHAN CAPEHART, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, when it comes to the statements from the victims` families, I mean, I haven`t seen anything like it in all my years of reporting, in all our years of watching, you know, horrible event after horrible event. And so that, just as an event, was extraordinary. But also, the overwhelming -- that deep well of forgiveness from those victims` families was something that, whether you were Christian or not, had to have hit you in the heart, people who suffered tragic losses 48 hours ago looking at the person who killed their loved ones and resting on their faith and saying to him before the world, We forgive you. You`ve done this to us, but we forgive you. It`s an extraordinary thing for all of us to see, and I`m glad we were able to see it. MATTHEWS: You know, I want you to do a little diagnosis here. The anger people feel towards authority when it`s abused, when a police officer is seen using his gun and his authority and his position to shoot somebody, perhaps in cold blood, whatever, without any justification, obviously. And then to have an attitude towards this kid, this 21-year-old -- it just seems there`s an emotional difference that`s very rational. You would blame society and its authority figures for abusing their authority, where in this case, he looks like just some sort of vessel of hatred that somehow found himself into human form. Like, who is this being? But he does represent, it seems to me, part of our culture, and we know it and we don`t like it. CAPEHART: Right. MATTHEWS: You know what I mean? How do you see it?
CAPEHART: Yes, he`s a 21-year-old kid, but he`s a 21-year-old kid who at some point turned evil, who at some point decided that he wanted to terrorize a group of people, who, according to reports I saw, said he wanted to start a race war. He was telling these things to his friends, that he thought that the races should be separated. He reportedly said during the incident that, you know, You rape our women, and it`s time for -- time -- time for you to go. I mean, this is somebody who at a very young age harbored age-old resentments, age-old hatred. And unlike a whole lot of other people out there who hold those same bigoted, awful views, he put it into action, into murderous action. And so yes, he may be a 21-year-old kid. He could be someone who is too young to know maybe what he`s doing. But from everything we`ve seen and everything that we`ve read, even the statements from his friends, this was somebody who had a mission. This is somebody who wanted to terrorize people. And you know, the Department of Homeland Security warned the American people in a report in April 2009 that the white supremacist lone wolf, because of their autonomy and because, you know... MATTHEWS: Right. CAPEHART: ... they -- they are alone, they`re probably the most dangerous domestic terrorists this country has to -- has to face. Well, the face of that report now, the face of that warning is Dylann Roof. MATTHEWS: Well, outside the courtroom today, the emotion was palpable. In fact, during the hearing, the bond hearing, members of the community, as we said, gathered at the Emanuel church itself and sang. MSNBC`s Thomas Roberts was there on the scene. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: It`s kind of heart-breaking. They`re singing. And a whole flood of people showed up at the same time this arraignment was taking place. So you`re hearing from the family, and then this whole group of people showed up. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Here`s a young bad guy, an evil one, as you mention, pushing for total segregation. And yet, Jonathan, among the horrors in this, there are some ironies. He goes to the most segregated place in America, church. Isn`t that something? CAPEHART: It`s incredible. But you know, Chris, one of the reasons why I think Thomas choked up on air, and a lot of people did, is because this person was trying to divide us, was trying to divide the nation, and right there again in front -- on television, people came from all corners of Charleston to go to Mother Emanuel and show solidarity. This is the flip side of evil. MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what it took to integrate our church. Horribly sad, but it`s true. And by the way, among the people emotional about this, who I really do take seriously, was the governor down there, Nikki Haley. And I thought she was as emotional as Thomas Roberts was. It`s good to see humanity on television. Coming up -- let`s get inside this shooter`s head, if we dare. Sources told NBC News he confessed to shooting the nine people. He`s done that today. He said he wanted to start a race war. This was his motive. And that`s next. And later, the incredible emotion from the family members of the victims as they express forgiveness to the gunman, incredibly so, the one who killed their loved ones. Our coverage continues after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: At today`s bond hearing for Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, the judge made a personal statement about the importance of reaching out to the victims of Wednesday`s crime, and he said that included relatives of Roof. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUDGE JAMES GOSNELL, CHARLESTON COUNTY CHIEF MAGISTRATE: We have victims, nine of them. But we also have victims on the other side. There are victims on this young man`s side of the family. Nobody would have ever thrown them into the whirlwind of events that they have been thrown into. We must find it in our heart at some point in time not only to help those that are victims but to also help his family, as well. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And he`s not one of those victims. Our coverage continues after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOSNELL: What is your age? DYLANN ROOF, ACCUSED CHARLESTON SHOOTER: Twenty-one. GOSNELL: You`re 21 years old. Are you employed? ROOF: No, sir. GOSNELL: You`re unemployed at this time? ROOF: Yes, sir. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That appearance in court today is all we have heard publicly from the killer, Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old who sources tell NBC News confessed today to murdering nine people at the historic black Mother Emanuel Church on Wednesday night during a Bible study night. In the wake of today`s confession and dramatic court appearance, we`re getting into insights into this murderous mind. According to "The Washington Post," Roof was -- quote -- "unrepentant" during a confession to police. He wanted his actions known. They also report this chilling detail about the attack. "As he methodically fired and reloaded several times, Roof called out, `You all are taking over our country. You all want something to pray for? I will give you something to pray for.`" NBC`s Craig Melvin reports that Roof told police he almost didn`t go through with the killings because everyone in the Bible study was so nice to him. But he then decided he had to -- quote -- "go through with his mission." In court today, Roof showed very little emotion. You`re looking now at CCTV footage of Roof`s reaction as he was being confronted in court by victims of the family members he murdered. Carolyn Murray is an anchor and reporter at NBC`s affiliate WCBD in Charleston. And Jerry Markon is a national reporter covering this story for "The Washington Post." Thank you, Carolyn, for joining us tonight. And give us an update. People are tuning into this program, as they are all night, trying to figure out what they can about the killer. He`s now a killer. He`s confessed, and we`re able to say so. What kind of picture can you draw, having reported on this? CAROLYN MURRAY, WCBD REPORTER: Well, certainly, we saw a very different Dylann Roof, someone who went into that church Wednesday night and terrorized people, as we all across this country know. Dylann Roof is in isolation now here in the North Charleston detention center, but certainly what he did to those families and to this entire community is something that we will never forget. But what he saw in court today, he had an opportunity to not only hear from the victims` families, but to once again experience the same kind of compassion and kindness that was heaped upon him when he walked into the church behind me.
He saw that again from the families in the -- in that bond court today. So, Dylann Roof once again experienced something very differently, though that is not what he says black people have experienced or black people have done to white people in this country. MATTHEWS: What do we make of the fact that he has told police he wanted to start a race war? He wanted reaction. He wanted reaction from both sides, apparently. MURRAY: Well, I don`t think that he got it, certainly not from the people in that church. And who -- what can we say about someone like that? Dylann Roof was isolated from society. He apparently had dropped out of society. We know that he wasn`t in school. He wasn`t working. We know very little about him. We haven`t heard very much from his family. We know that his father and his uncle turned him in. And we have heard very little from him, from his family. They did issue a statement today, and they thanked the family members of the victims for being so kind to them and for forgiving the family and for forgiving Dylann, but other than that, we have heard very little from the Roof family. MATTHEWS: Jerry Markon, thanks for joining us as well. JERRY MARKON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Sure. MATTHEWS: And stay with us, Carolyn. MURRAY: OK. MATTHEWS: Jerry, it seems to me the newspapers, the ones I got my hands on today, are full of sidebars, as we call them, lots of attempt to try to put it in context, to try to take this story of yet another horror involving race and gun violence... MARKON: Right. MATTHEWS: .. and all together here, all put together here, and trying to figure it out.
What have you been able to pull together here about what it all means and what you have learned from it? MARKON: Yes, we have learned some more details in the last few hours about Roof`s last six months and what is being described to us as sort of a rootless kind of existence. He was apparently living in a mobile home, but here or there, only with some of his high school friends. He slept past noon. He had a job as a landscaper at one point, but he got laid off. He apparently drank a lot. And what we`re hearing is more than just a blatant white supremacist bigot. We`re hearing more of a portrait of just sort of a troubled young man who was just sort of troubled in general. His friends are telling us - - now, maybe they have an agenda because they`re friends, but they`re telling us, well, he didn`t talk explicitly about killing black people, but he did talk about violence. He did talk about maybe going and shooting up a school. And he also -- this could be significant too -- he also did not get along with his parents. And, as your other reporter said, he dropped out when he was 14. So, there`s a lot of things we don`t know about him, but, at a minimum, he was a very troubled young man with some views that appear to be pretty racist. MATTHEWS: The question I have is historic. How does a guy of his age, 21, just 21, even know about Rhodesia? Rhodesia ceased to exist as a country, a while-ruled country, in 1980, in the Lancaster House. MURRAY: Right. MATTHEWS: I was all involved in that. In fact, I hitchhiked through that country in the Peace Corps. It`s all gone. How does he even know about it, Rhodesia and Ian Smith all that stuff? (CROSSTALK) MURRAY: You have perhaps somebody just grappling for something, perhaps someone just trying to find something to connect to and looking for a reason to act out violently...
MARKON: Yes. MURRAY: ... someone looking for a reason to hurt people. You know, this is someone who is looking for a reason, their 15 minutes of fame, someone who wants to die, and at the hands of police and make a name for themselves perhaps. I mean, this is all speculative at this point, and we don`t know. And perhaps we will never know. And I had an opportunity to speak with the woman who pretended to be dead here at Mother Emanuel Church. And, you know, you have to think of the pain, the horror, the stress that these people will live with for many years to come. This is what Dylann Roof perhaps wanted to inflict. He did on them and on our entire community. We don`t know why. But what we do now understand is that this is what happens when someone perhaps is someone who has perhaps some kind of mental disorder or some kind of stress goes untreated and... MARKON: Chris, if I could add one thing here. MURRAY: ... is left to fend for themselves. (CROSSTALK) MARKON: If I could add one thing here, Chris, that`s a good question about -- good question about Rhodesia. And that could imply some sort of a group or an organized group, maybe a white supremacist group that he could have been involved in. We just haven`t found any evidence of that. MATTHEWS: Yes.
(CROSSTALK) MARKON: So, it`s kind of mysterious how a 21-year-old would have a Rhodesian flag in his Facebook profile. That`s a really good point. MATTHEWS: Carolyn, I think you`re more than informed when it comes to speculation here, because, as you and I know, as reporters, the fact is, he did talk to police about how he intended to go down shooting and he wanted to get killed. It`s all part of this martyr role he may have had in his mind. Thank you so much, Carolyn Murray, for joining us tonight from WCBD down there, and, of course, Jerry Markon from "The Post," "The Washington Post." Up next: remembering the nine victims of the church massacre down in Charleston. We will get to know these people who died in church believing and praying, doing Christian work. And, in fact that purpose in their life has been carried on by their relatives, don`t you see, as Charleston comes together tonight for a prayer vigil. Our coverage continues after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. They were in the church and prayed together, but evil sat in their midst. After the shooting ended, nine were dead. And there was the honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney of Emanuel WME -- AME, rather -- he was 41. Tywanza Sanders was a 26-year-old recent grad of Allen University. he was known as a quiet leader. Cynthia Hurd was a 54-year-old who worked at the Charleston County Public Library for 31 years. The Depayne Middleton- Doctor was passionate about education. She was an admissions coordinator for Southern Wesleyan University`s Learning Center in Charleston. Sharonda Singleton was speech therapist and girls track and field coach, wife and mother. Here are her beautiful children.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We forgive. That`s one thing we`re going to do. We forgive right now. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amen. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For everything that`s happened. She`s the best mom I could ever could even ask for. And, honestly, it`s going to be tough, but I know we will get through it as a family. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Unbelievable people. And 74-year-old Daniel Simmons was a regular at the Wednesday night Bible study sessions. He survived being shot, but later died during surgery. He was the ninth to die. Susie Jackson was the oldest victim. The 87-year-old sang in the church choir. Myra Thompson was 59. Friends say she loved the lord and she was teaching Bible study when she was shot and killed. And joining me right now to talk about the ninth victim of the shooting, 70-year-old Ethel Lance, is Abigail Darlington, a reporter for "The Post and Courier." Abigail, you profiled a remarkable woman here. Tell us about her. ABIGAIL DARLINGTON, "THE POST AND COURIER": Yes, I certainly did. Ethel Lance was a woman of great strength and had so much life and love and energy. She was widowed in 1988 and had five children, whom she raised, you know, with as much, you know, love and vigor for life as she had. And it`s been really a privilege to, you know, speak with these families. It`s a shame that it`s in these circumstances.
But I`m very privileged that they have shared their memories and experiences with me. And just a wonderful family, and it`s just tragic that this had to happen to such a wonderful woman. I mean, if you see the pictures of her, it`s almost like you can see in her eyes the life that she had. She was a custodian since the Gaillard Auditorium opened. And the Gaillard is just a few blocks east. And she was very dedicated to what she did there. I mean, she took huge pride in keeping the place in order, and her co-workers have all talked to me about her and how she would get very, you know, almost territorial about what she did, because she wanted to do it the best. And they could always count on her. And she retired in 2002 after, I think, 34 years of working there. And she continued to work as a custodian for the church behind me, and she was very dedicated to that, too. She liked being a caretaker of places and of people, and I think that her spirit will be greatly missed here in the low country. MATTHEWS: Abigail, at the bond hearing for Dylann Roof today, a daughter of Ethel Lance was one of the family representatives who gave an emotional statement in the courtroom. Here she is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NADINE COLLIER, DAUGHTER OF ETHEL LANCE: I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. You have hurt me. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, she taught her family her religion, didn`t she? They are -- they are the truest Christians I have ever come across, I think, in this business. They are totally turn-the-other-cheek people. They`re -- it`s astounding to me. DARLINGTON: It is -- it is truly astounding. You know, I haven`t heard that actual recording yet. And after speaking to Nadine today, you know, I just -- my heart goes out to them so much. They were all very religious people, faithful people, and, you know, she told me that her mother was a peacemaker. She always wanted everybody to get along. And that was her role in the family and in the community, I think.
And I think that her children have demonstrated that as well, turn the other cheek and forgive, and live the life that they had been shown to live. And it`s just -- it -- I`m at a loss almost to even put it into words, how astounding that is to hear. MATTHEWS: Well, I think we have met the early Christians here. Anyway, thank you, Abigail Darlington of "The Post and Courier" down there. Up next: much more on the president`s speech today, his tough talk today on the issue of guns and his growing frustration, if you will, over Washington`s inability to do anything about guns. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. Escaped convicts Richard Matt and David Sweat have been added to the U.S. Marshals` most-wanted list. There`s still no sign of the pair nearly two weeks after their escape. And Comcast founder Ralph Roberts died last night at the age of 95. His son and Comcast CEO, Brian Roberts, called his father "an inspiration to us all." Comcast is the parent company of MSNBC -- now back to HARDBALL. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How many innocent people in our country, from little children to church members, to movie theater attendees, how many people do we need to see cut down before we act? (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Before we act. Well said. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, of course, reacting to the tragedy down in Charleston yesterday, during a speech in Nevada today. Earlier, yesterday, her old boss, President Obama, responded to the shooting in Charleston which left nine dead, with a sense of frustration over another gun-related massacre of innocent people. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries, and it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: He moved ahead on that one today, and corrected in any impression he said that he was sort of accepting the fact he can`t do something about gun violence. Anyway, South Carolina`s governor, Nikki Haley, was asked by the "Today Show`s" Savannah Guthrie today what she thought of what the president said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Any time there`s a traumatic situation, people want something to blame, they always want something to go after. There`s one person to blame here, a person filled with hate, a person that does not define South Carolina. And we are going to focus on that one person. You know, I know that President Obama had, you know, his job to do when he made those statements, but my job is to now get this state to heal. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Joining the roundtable tonight: Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer, of course, for "The Washington Post." He rejoins us now. Francesca Chambers is White House correspondent for "The Daily Mail". And Jonathan Allen is chief political correspondent for Vox. Let me start with Jonathan Capehart. I want to hear from everybody on this. Your personal, professional, journalistic reaction to the charge that we shouldn`t talk about gun control after there`s been an incident of gun violence, that`s when we shouldn`t talk about gun control after there`s been a period or episode of gun violence. Your thoughts about that, Jonathan Capehart? JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Governor Haley is wrong. When the president went into the briefing room and said, you know, he`s been there far too many times talking about these things because it seems like throughout his presidency, he`s had to console the nation after one shooting incident after another because someone was able to get their hands on a gun and wreak havoc on a community, tear families apart and hurt people. You know, the president in his remarks at the Conference of Mayors earlier today, you know, he talked about galvanizing the American people because when the American people rise up, Congress has no choice but to listen. But you know what? After Newton, the American people rose up over the slaughter of 20 children in a school, 90 percent of the American people supported background checks and yet Congress did nothing. The American people need to be galvanized to push Congress but they also have to be galvanized to push those special interests, the National Rifle Association, to get them to back off so that more families from Charleston to Aurora to other places don`t have to suffer the horror that these people in Charleston are suffering today. MATTHEWS: Francesca.
FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, THE DAILY MAIL: I think there`s a fine line between coming off as a political opportunist and not, therefore, also taking the opportunity when a tragedy like this occurs if you are the president and you do believe there should be more restrictions on gun sales, to use this -- to push for that so that more of these sorts of senseless tragedies don`t happen. Because, you know, as Jonathan points out, right after these sorts of shootings, that`s when there is sort of the political appetite, a media appetite and an appetite with the American public to have these sorts of discussions. If you look at polls, a year after the shooting at Sandy Hook, the appetite sort of starts waning, both in the media but again both with the public as well, to have this conversation. So, when is a good time to have this sort of conversation? JONATHAN ALLEN, VOX: It`s absolutely insane, Chris -- MATTHEWS: Jonathan Allen, yes. ALLEN: Absolutely insane to not have this conversation. This is not a random thing that happened. This is happening all over the country time after time after time, and the one link is that guns are able to kill a lot of people in a short period of time and they`re defenseless against them. If somebody had murdered nine people with a paper clip, you wouldn`t talk about taking paper clips away, but it`s guns every time. And I think, absolutely, there needs to be a conversation about it. Not just a conversation but action on this. CHAMBERS: But the president also I think struck, Chris, a good balance when he talked about it yesterday. He did not make a legislative push, per se. He didn`t call on Congress to act immediately. He didn`t make any demands. He just suggested that there be a national conversation about this. And he also stated that he knew this wasn`t going to happen at this time because of the politics in Washington. So, I don`t think in my, again, journalistic perspective that he went too far yesterday either. MATTHEWS: Well, today, out here in San Francisco, speaking to the mayors, he did go further. He doubled down on his remarks from yesterday, a few minutes ago actually during a speech in San Francisco. Let`s watch him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I know today`s politics makes it less likely that we see any sort of serious gun safety legislation. I remarked that it was very unlikely that this Congress would act. And some reporters I think took this as resignation. I want to be clear. I`m not resigned. I was simply making the point that we have to change public opinion. It`s not enough simply to show sympathy. I refuse to act as if this is the new normal or to pretend that it`s simply sufficient to grieve and that any mention of us doing something to stop it is somehow politicizing the problem. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, they can`t even get a highway built through Congress. Obviously, they`re going to have trouble with gun control. Right wing commentators said the president`s remarks, hmm -- anyway. I can`t continue that thought. It`s off the prompter. Anyway, I want the raise a point here with all you three and that is this. The trouble is we care after Bobby Kennedy was shot, I wrote my congressman. I mean, there are times you react personally and emotionally to things and then it fades. By two days before the election, who is thinking about gun control? The 10 percent who are pro gun, the Second Amendment people. The 90 percent are thinking about the economy, war and peace and all kinds of issues that grab their attention. But the gun owners, all they think about is this issue and that`s why they carry the day. Jonathan Allen, respond to that. That`s our problem. It`s about emotion and focus. And as long as the gun control people can`t keep focused on an issue as much as the gun owners do, it`s not going to happen.
ALLEN: I think that`s right. It`s a high priority for a very small number of people who have very influential lobbying organizations. Interestingly, we`ve seen the number of people in the United States or the percentage of people in the United States who want stricter gun controls has actually ebbed. It was 78 percent in 1990, it`s below 50 percent now. I think if Congress was ever going to act, I thought this would happen in the wake of Gabby Giffords being shot in the head, a member of Congress. You would thing that would move some of the members of Congress to see one of their own almost slain and they did absolutely nothing about it. It`s an amazing hold that the gun lobby has on our Congress and it`s an amazing fact that such a small percentage has such a loud voice. MATTHEWS: Look, just our history of assassinations outdoes any banana republic, in terms of knocking off leaders, just the leaders we have lost is incredibly. We`ll be right with more from the roundtable after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re coming back to talk about why the 2016 Republican presidential candidates are ignoring the race part of this story. They`re not even talking about it. We`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This was an evil act of aggression. I don`t know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes, but I do know, I do know what was in the heart of the victims. (END VIDEO CLIP
MATTHEWS: We`re back with Jonathan Capehart, Francesca Chambers and Jonathan Allen. And that was Jeb Bush at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference where many candidates spoke today in Washington, D.C. We`ve heard of climate change deniers. We now seem to have racism deniers, Jonathan Capehart. The inability of these politicians to talk about guns -- well, that`s historic. Now, they have an inability to talk about race. That`s fairly new. So, what did they talk about? What is the relevance of a Republican presidential candidate if they`re unable to even admit that there`s a race factor here or gun issue here? What do -- what role do they play in our society? It`s hard to figure this thing out. CAPEHART: Well, Chris, I don`t know. Clearly they are intent on playing no role, which is a really bad thing to do. You know, race is an issue in this country. It was there before President Obama was elected. It will be there long after he has left the White House. And until you have one or two of the political parties in this country completely ignoring a huge problem in this country that effects millions of Americans and not just people of color. It also affects white Americans. Then, I don`t know why they`re even in the business of running for president of the United States. There are a lot of people that want to hear from the people that presume to be their leaders what they`re going to do, or even what they think about it, and Republicans don`t want to say what they think about it. MATTHEWS: I know, because this guy is out there flying -- sporting, I should say, the flag of Ian Smith and Rhodesia, and -- CAPEHART: Yes. MATTHEWS: -- and -- what`s his name, P.W. Botha of South Africa, the old apartheid leader, and we`re not to notice that it`s something to do with race? Come on, Jeb. Come on. Anyway, thank you, Jonathan Capehart, Francesca Chambers and Jonathan Allen. I`ll be right back with a comment about gun control in a moment. You`re watching HARDBALL. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with some insane proposals. Why don`t we issue a gun to anyone when they reach a certain age, say 18 or 21, that way Dylann Roof age 20 wouldn`t have had to use his birthday money? Why don`t we give a gun to everyone that walks into a bar so that everyone will be ready if they need to have one? Why don`t we mail people gun with their acceptance package when they get into college? That way, they get to campus, ready, armed and don`t have to go through the trouble of finding a local gun seller. Why don`t we have an action line that allows someone who`s really angry about something, maybe a racial thing he`s got in his head to get a gun quickly in his hands so the thought doesn`t leave him before he gets to take action? Now, stop for a minute and think about the insanity of each one of these. Giving a gun to everyone regardless of temperament, mental condition or criminal behavior. Giving a gun into everyone heading into the alcohol fuelled atmosphere of a night club. Giving every college kid a gun, again regardless of their level of maturity, knowledge of how to use a gun, motive for having one, having a way with anyone with a grudge can actually and quickly get a gun in their hands. All of this would be insane except that, please think about this, how is this any different from the crazed demands of the gun lobby right now? Aren`t they demanding that the Second Amendment offers the right for anyone of any condition any time for whatever reason to have their hands on a gun and keep it there as long as they live, aren`t they? The sad thing here is that we can have hate and live with it. We can have guns and live with it. But when we have hate and guns, we are doomed to what happened in Charleston. The president as he often is, is right on this. Commonsense gun control makes common sense. That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>