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Trump holds WH "listening session". TRANSCRIPT: 2/21/2018. Hardball with Chris Matthews

Guests: Eugene Scott, Richard Blumenthal, Nicole Hockley, Shannon Pettypiece, Jared Moskowitz, Evan McMullin, Daniel Gelillo

Show: HARDBALL Date: February 21, 2018 Guest: Eugene Scott, Richard Blumenthal, Nicole Hockley, Shannon Pettypiece, Jared Moskowitz, Evan McMullin, Daniel Gelillo

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: OK. Tell it like it is. And we thank (INAUDIBLE) and all our guests for the wild ride last night. And thank you for watching "the Beat.

"Hardball" starts now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Gun talk. Let`s play "Hardball."

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

In a remarkable get together in the White House late today, real people talked about the real horror of mass school shootings. For the first time, the question of what to could about this continuing catastrophe was taken away from the paid-up politicians and taken back by the people. It was an extraordinary meeting and at times a gut wrenching and painfully raw experience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW POLLACK, FATHER OR MURDERED STUDENT: All the school shootings, it doesn`t make sense. Fix it. It should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it! And I`m pissed because my daughter I`m not going to see again.

SAM ZEIF, SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I lost a best friend. Practically a brother. And I`m here to use my voice because I know he can`t.

NICOLE HOCKLEY, SANDY HOOK PROMISE: My story is far too well-known. I had two sons who were at Sandy Hook school. My eldest who was eight at the time survived and my 6-year-old son Dillon did not. How many more deaths can we take as a country? How many more teenagers and six and 7-year-olds can we allow to die?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: At other times, it was an honest debate about what exactly should be done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not left and right. It`s not political. It`s a human issue. People are dying. And we have to stop this. We have to stop this. If he`s not old enough to buy a drink, to go and buy a beer, you shouldn`t be able to buy a gun at 18 years old.

ZEIF: I turned 18 the day after. Woke up to the news that my best friend was gone. And I don`t understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war.

POLLACK: We all work together and come up with the right idea, and it`s school safety. It`s not about the gun laws right now. That`s another fight, another battle.

FRED ABT, FATHER OF MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: One possible solution which may not be very popular, would be to have people in the school, teachers, administrators, who have volunteered to have a firearm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, President Trump listened and at times weighed in with his own idea how to stop the violence which he often touted during the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you had a teacher with -- who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly. In addition to what we are going doing about background checks, we are going to go very strong into age, that`s age at purchase. And we are also going to be very strong into the mental health aspect of what`s going on because here was a case where it tried out, this person was sick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, a week after the rampage in Parkland, Florida, it`s clear that the students are engaged. Hundreds of teenagers from Florida to Washington, D.C. took to the streets today demanding action. What is still unclear is if politicians will actually deliver any concrete reforms that confront the deadly issue of gun violence in our schools.

I`m joined by senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut. Nicole Hockley, managing director of Sandy Hook Promise. She lost a 6- year-old son Dillon, her son, Dillon in the Sandy Hook shooting. She has dedicated her life to fighting gun silence. Shannon Pettypiece is here with me, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and Phil Rucker, White House bureau chief at "the Washington Post" and a political analyst for MSNBC.

Let me go to Nicole. Nicole, I loved what I watched today. I wasn`t so taken with what the President had to say. I thought it was unnecessary that he even talked. But I did love the fact that people could get out there who weren`t politicians and was paid by the NRA or politicians afraid of the NRA but people who had the guts and the personal experience that spoke with candor about guns in school. Your thoughts what you saw today. What did it feel like in that room?

HOCKLEY: You know, there was a real energy in that room that I really hope that the President and his administration felt it. I was so glad that they brought forward survivors and victims from so many different mass shootings to hear how does this impact your community and what solutions do you have to offer. I mean, this is an important start of a conversation. And now we need to hold this administration accountable for taking action on the ideas that they heard.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to senator Blumenthal.

And you know, there are a couple arguments that I thought were going to be key. One I was impressed that the President said we have to start talking about at least the age at which somebody can hire an assault weapon, maybe not banning them. But this is the first time he is even brought the subject, and I know the NRA hates this, that you have to be old enough to buy a beer to buy an assault weapon.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: This kind of common sense measure has to involve breaking the grip of the NRA and the gun lobby. And Nicole Hockley`s courage and strength which was also so evident on the streets today by these young people, how inspiring and wonderful their voices. That kind of passion has to be taken to the ballot box so that those kinds of measures not only raising the age for buying an assault weapon but banning them. And in fact, they are weapons of war designed to kill people in mass slaughter. Banning high capacity magazines, extending background checks. Otherwise how can age be checked at all if you don`t expand background checks to all purchases. So there`s no one panacea. But we know that action has to be taken.

MATTHEWS: Nicole, back to you. You have had the experience of going through this, losing a child. I want to ask you about this thing. Remember the very passionate guy standing over to the right of you, with the three sons who lost his daughter. He talked about how we should not focus on guns but focus on the school safety issue. Can you separate the two? Can you separate the AR-15 semiautomatic basically school shooter weapon where you can go in and just spray bullets and kill all kinds of people from the issue of school safety?

HOCKLEY: Absolutely not. And you know, the AR-15 is the same weapon that was used at Sandy Hook to kill my son. So this is an issue about guns. This is about an issue about the access to those guns. This is about an issue to deal with the mental wellness of the people who have access to those guns. This is a complex thing and it`s not guns or people. It`s guns and people. And if we are not focusing on both elements for school safety and for safety in general, then we are missing a key part of the equation. And that`s why the solutions won`t work. We needed to focus on both and drive forward in that way.

MATTHEWS: Let be get back to Senator Blumenthal, because it`s great having you on. I just want -- you come from a state where people are reasonable about guns. Some states are. Most states are not. Most states are against any mention of gun control or school safety no matter how you phrase it. How are you going to get anything done with a President whose ear seems to be tuned to the NRA and a majority of senators with ears and pocketbooks attuned to the NRA who don`t want anything done?

BLUMENTHAL: This President has said to the NRA, we will never let you down. And in fact, his administration has cut funding for school security, cut funding for mental health treatment. He seems to be backing the idea of arming teachers and eliminating gun-free zones. That idea has been rejected soundly and consistently by the entire educational community, by teachers, superintendents, principals, because it makes schools less safe. And it is a nonstarter whether it`s proposed singly or as part of any other measure in the United States Senate.

I will fight it because it is anathema, a dangerous and frightening prospect. But we need to take this issue to the ballot box. That`s where it`s going to be decided and Nicole Hockley is example of leadership should inspire us.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to out journalist here because it`s such a tough one. But how does, just logically, how does a custodian or a teacher who has access to a gun, a handgun perhaps in a box somewhere and they have to open it up because you don`t want students getting into it and pull it out in a way they can actually challenge somebody with a semiautomatic assault rifle? I mean, they are going to start spraying you and you can`t shoot them until they start spraying basically. A civilian can`t shoot at you first. But you can`t just shoot someone because they have the wrong weapon. You can`t say put that down or I`ll shoot. They`ll shoot you. Give me the scenario where regular guns would take on a semi-automatic assault rifle successfully? What would be the scenario?

PHIL RUCKER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t know that scenario, Chris. I also would point out that the experts in this area would say there are a lot of flaws with that theory including that you would then be having guns in all the classrooms. You have got kids running around. Kids love to get in to things left unlock things.

MATTHEWS: How about when the student is in tough neighborhood challenges the teacher. I know you are armed. Show your stuff. I mean, it just creates, and to me, a dynamic of hell.

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR BLOOMBERG NEWS: And it`s a very controversial position, too. You know, regardless of how the logistics would work. The President acknowledged it was controversial but brought it up anyway. In all the solutions being discussed and possible solutions being discussed, this is one that he took time to emphasize. Now of course, he did ask the people in the room.

MATTHEWS: Because the NRA likes this idea. This is not surprising.

PETTYPIECE: Right. And he did ask the people in the room what they thought of it and people had the opportunity to give their feedback. So maybe he was listening on that. But it was a controversial topic and he went right into it. And he knew who was going to be listening, as well.

RUCKER: It`s hard to imagine that are gaining steam.

MATTHEWS: Nicole, you have the street cred here horribly. And I want to know what do you think works?

HOCKLEY: I think prevention works. I think we focus a lot on imminent danger, school safety and security. I really do not support the idea of arming teachers. They have enough on their plate at the moment and they need to be focused on teaching. I`m not aware of any teachers that support this. Prevention is a critical part of cure.

MATTHEWS: How do you prevent - give me some steps that people watching us could end it like limiting access to the school to one door who has , you know, lock it when the school starts in the beginning of the day? How do you keep people from just barging in with a gun and shooting people?

Well, I think if someone is really intense on barging into the school and shooting people, they are going to find a way. However, there is a lot of things that can be done in school security, doors, security systems insuring that, you know, the doors are not open before and after school. That there is appropriate signage and stuff like that.

But really, when I`m talking about prevention, I`m talking about more upstream. The teachers know what`s going on in their classrooms., They know who is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else. The students do, as well. Arm them with the knowledge how to identify that and what actions to take so it never becomes an issue of someone shooting through a glass door to get to a school.

MATTHEWS: How do you stop someone who is 17 years old, angry at the fact that have been bullied around being the outlier in the school that is not part of any clique, resist the cliques they are not a part of, doesn`t get to seat at the right table at lunch time, is really, really angry and perhaps emotionally disturbed. How do you stop them from that condition which is fairly common I think to becoming a violent shooter?

Senator, I can see your face. Do you want to say something on that?

BLUMENTHAL: We have no higher rate of alienated angry, young teenagers or men. We have no higher rate of mental illness than other industrialized countries. We have a rate of gun violence that is off the charts because of access to weapons of mass slaughter. We need to reduce the number of dangerous people and in fact, keep those guns out of their hands and Connecticut knows what works. We did it in the wake of Sandy Hook. We banned assault weapons. And we extended background checks to all purchases. And we banned high capacity magazines and we have a measure called extreme risk orders which says to police in effect, if you sympathy someone is imminently dangerous to himself or others, get a court order, take those weapons away from that person. That`s what we need to extend to all 50 states. Have I legislation that would help to do it. And banning dangerous people from having weapons is what will help reduce that number of alienated young men who do dangerous things to themselves or others.

MATTHEWS: What do you think of that, Nicole?

HOCKLEY: I think those are important legislations. I also think that some of the programs that we teach from Sandy Hook Promise everything from reaching out to someone who is isolated starting with hello then teaching how to know the signs then teaching schools how do you assess threats and put in protocols to really find out what`s going on in the kid`s life. Why are they acting out in this and how do you intervene.

This is a spectrum of activity from that bullied isolated child all the way up to the moment that they are going to pick up a weapon and hurt someone. There are actions we can take like those dominos, they all line up. We need to focus on the space between the dominos and create interventions.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Phil Rucker on this. What can you tell us about the NRA is up to? Because I had the sense that the NRA likes any sense of emotional conditions. They like anything that does have to do with denying people the right to guns. I had limited right to guns, right?

RUCKER: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And by the way, guns in school is good for them. Teachers have more guns, they sell more guns.

RUCKER: Yes. The National Rifle Association has largely been quiet since the shooting. We don`t know exactly where they are in these positions. But they like the discussion of mental health. They like the discussion of school safety. They do not like the discussion of restrictions on guns or background checks.

MATTHEWS: How about age limits?

RUCKER: Age limits, I don`t think they like. They want people to have access to guns if they want.

MATTHEWS: Why can`t a kid, an 18-year-old wait until he is 21 or his father or mother or buy him the gun for the use by the son or daughter? Why do they have the right to walk into a gunshop at 18 when you just turn 18 and buy an assault weapon? Why is that so important to anybody?

RUCKER: Because our laws allow it. That the NRA has argued for years, for generations that it`s the second amendment right to be able to buy a gun if you are an adult in this country.

PETTYPIECE: Well, I mean, one argument I have heard is if they can served in the military, be drafted in the military and carry that weapon, shouldn`t they be allowed to buy it. But I think that is what is the debate is going to be about. And the President raised that issue of age in background checks as one of the things they are looking into.

MATTHEWS: I can argue, you should be allowed to drink at 18 if you die for your country.

PETTYPIECE: I would argue that, as well. But yes. That this is going to be, I think, this is now an issue that wasn`t on table yesterday and on the table today. Just like bump stocks. We were not talking about bump stocks a year ago, at least not as a nation, and now --.

MATTHEWS: Should the American - I mean, Senator Blumenthal, should the American people believe the President when he flirted the other day with banning bump stocks which allows a semiautomatic weapon to be turned into an automatic weapon? Do you believe him? I thought he was doing the same kind of flirtation like he did on DACA when it first came up with Nancy and Chuck, Oh, yes, we will do that. I didn`t hear him locking to that position. I think he is still going to slip away from it. How do you read him?

BLUMENTHAL: Great question, Chris. I don`t take him seriously. And the reason is that if he really wanted to ban bump stocks, if he was serious, he would back the legislation that I and others have introduced. It`s bipartisan. He doesn`t have the power to ban bump stocks. His edict, his proposed regulation will fail in the courts because the ATF has already said that the.

MATTHEWS: Is that what he`s doing? Is this a fake -- is he faking this by saying he is going do it by executive order knowing that won`t work and then blaming it on Jeff Sessions at justice when if he backed your legislation it would become law because he would sign it?

BLUMENTHAL: Whether he knows it or not, it is fake. It is a -- an unreal and illusory solution because he lacks the authority. Better to legislate it, ban it by an act of Congress as I propose. It could be done in a day or two. It would sail through the Congress. But he refuses to back legislation. And he refuses to back extending background checks to all purchases and a ban on the sale of assault weapons. These kinds you have serious steps are what will test President Trump`s real dedication to making American safer.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Nicole Hockley, thank you so much. Shannon Pettypiece and Phil Rucker.

We will have much more on this extraordinary moment right now as regular people speak honestly and powerfully and they tell the President to his face what they think needs to be done top stop gun violence in this country especially in our schools. The question now, will this raise the stakes for the President to do something? Has he now taken ownership for the issue? If there`s another school shooting in the next couple months, it he personally responsible? That`s a good question because he is taking control of this issue, he says. He says he is going to stop it.

Plus we re going to get to what is happening in Florida where students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school face off with state lawmakers down in Tallahassee, the state capital, despite attacks from the fringe right. The sickening commentary coming from the right.

This is "Hardball" where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Arizona senator Jeff Flake said today he is working on bipartisan legislation that would raise the minimum age for buying a semiautomatic assault rifle like the one used in last week`s mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Flake tweeted, a kid too young to buy a handgun should be too young to buy an AR-15. Working with senator Feinstein on a bipartisan bill that will raise the minimum purchase age for nonmilitary buyers from 18 to 21, the same where you currently after being purchased a handgun. He wants to make it 21 to buy a school shooter.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL, and to the truly disgusting.

Over the last week, we have seen the survivors of the massacre as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School express their grief in their push for stricter gun safety measures.

In stark contrast to the grace and poise they have displayed, we`re also seeing a growing and very ugly backlash among the fringe elements of the very hard right. Various right-wing Web sites have been targeting these young advocates, falsely accusing them of being paid activists or left-wing agitators or exploiting the tragedy for their own gain.

The president`s eldest son, Don Jr., a father of five, even joined in. This week, he liked a tweet that accused one of the Parkland shooting survivors, David Hogg, of hating the president and of covering up for the FBI because his father is a retired FBI agent.

How is that for a conspiracy? Seventeen-year-old David Hogg responded to the attacks with an impressive level of maturity, however, telling BuzzFeed: "It`s immature, rude and inhuman for these people to try to destroy the people trying to prevent the death of future Americans because they won`t."

Well, joining me right now is Evan McMullin, of course, former CIA agent and former presidential candidate, and Jared Moskowitz is a Florida state representative.

Mr. Representative, what do you make of this element out there that has decided, Dinesh D`Souza, the whole band of them out there, who have decided that they fear these young voices so much, these civilians, if you will, non-politicians, so much that they`re trashing them already?

JARED MOSKOWITZ (D), FLORIDA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I mean, we have seen this playbook before, Chris.

It`s just a kill the messenger sort of strategy. It`s funny. As we debate mental health, I think to myself the folks that think these students are not real and they are actors, they may need to wind up on the list of people who don`t have access to weapons, because, you know, I have met with these students. The governor met with these students today. I have been feeding them pizza and ice cream.

I was in a dozen meetings with these students. So, the idea that these students are not real and they are actors, this is just nonsense. These are the people who believe in Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

It just -- it`s a shame that we give these people any credibility and we even talk about them. And the fact the president`s son is just retweeting that nonsense, it`s just -- it`s all politics. People see through it.

MATTHEWS: I like the way you talk, sir.

In another case, after Florida lawmakers voted down a measure to ban assault weapons, one right-wing activist tweeted about the student protesters, saying the vote was "the worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs."

That`s Dinesh D`Souza. Former Sheriff David Clarke, who campaigned for Trump in 2016, said on Twitter: "The well-organized effort by Florida school students demanding gun control has George Soros` fingerprints all over it."

Evan, what do you make of this? Is this fear of what looks -- I find this -- not a big fan of the president these days or for a while now. But I`ll tell you, I thought putting this together today was great. I thought letting all those people talk until he talked was absolutely first-rate. I would be afraid of those voices.

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.

Well, look, I think there is some fear here. And we see it in just the lack of decency that you see from Dinesh D`Souza, who, by the way, you might want to dismiss him as a fringe guy within the conservative movement, but he`s somebody who is still on the masthead of "The National Review," which is a conservative publication that`s mostly mainstream, has diverse opinions.

But my point is just this, that there`s a lack of decency now within the party, within Trump`s Republican Party. This is a party who got behind ultimately Roy Moore, not everyone in the party, certainly. That`s why he lost. But the party got behind him.

This is a party who is willing to turn the other way when you have got a wife beater in the White House or two. There`s just a lack of decency that starts with the president, but it results in the way they approach these students, these survivors, the victims, their families. It`s despicable.

MATTHEWS: Are they worse than Trump? It seems like he`s surrounded by a coterie of people that are even worse, less decent than he...

(CROSSTALK)

MCMULLIN: It is part of the Trump movement`s culture. That`s just what it is.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to the representative.

How do you address someone of your office? By the way, is it Representative Moskowitz? Or how do I call you?

MOSKOWITZ: Chris, you can call me Jared. But the official title is representative.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, Representative Moskowitz, I believe in titles. I believe in titles. I give you -- I want to give yours.

So, let me ask you about this whole thing. What do you think is going to happen down there? We had a vote the other day in Tallahassee where even to bring up a ban on the assault weapon down there, it lost 2-1 just to bring it up. What do you make of that? That`s not a good sign for doing anything about this rifle that did the killing the other day, used to kill -- the killing.

MOSKOWITZ: Well, listen, that was a procedural vote. Any time you try to bring up a procedural vote and overrule the speaker who has made a decision, that vote is going to go down. The topic could have been puppies.

But, obviously, on guns, we fell 40 votes shy of the two-thirds that was needed. We only have 41 Democratic members. We`re vastly outnumbered in the House.

But what I do believe is happening is, I do believe that a bill is going to be drafted. I think you will see the bill be released Thursday or Friday. It will be in committee on Monday. I think you`re going to see a massive bill that includes gun control first.

It`s going to include school hardening. It`s going to include school resource officers. It`s going to include funding for mental health. It is going to include making government talk to each other. The fact that four different departments of government had information on this kid and they didn`t talk to each other, it reminds me after 9/11, in which we created the Department of Homeland Security and we made government talk to each other.

Those four divisions of government failed those children. And that should not happen again. So, this is going to be a complete package. I can tell you right now, we have 600-plus-million-dollars ready to be spent on member projects. These are water fountains or things in people`s communities.

Let`s take all of that money right now. Let`s tell every member, every senator, you`re not getting your pet project. We`re going to take all that money and we`re going to put it towards all these issues.

Chris, I will be first one to stand up and vote for that.

MATTHEWS: What`s your betting odds on this passing?

(LAUGHTER)

MOSKOWITZ: Well, I -- we haven`t been able to pass a gaming bill here in five years. So, I`m not -- I don`t know if I would bet on any...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You have a state down there that fines local officials for doing something about gun safety.

I mean, by that standard, Dodge City under Matt Dillon would have been fined for having gun ordinances. I mean, what a crazy situation that is.

Thank you.

I mean, the state`s had a problem counting votes, and it`s got a problem counting lives.

Anyway, thank you, Florida State Representative Jared Moskowitz. Please come back on again.

Thank you, Evan McMullin. Thank you.

MCMULLIN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: These gun laws are ridiculous.

Up next: Despite these ugly attacks from the fringe right, the students across the country are mobilizing, as we have seen today, all over town here in Washington, taking the fight to lawmakers. Will they be able to bring about legislative action, when so many others have failed? There they are. These kids are something.

And this is HARDBALL, where the action is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, high school students have mobilized and thrust themselves into the center of the gun control debate in this country.

Today, they protested in Tallahassee, Florida, and Washington, D.C., marching from the Capitol here to the White House, chanting "Enough is enough" and "Never again."

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re sick and tired of politicians favoring NRA donations over human lives. And that needs to change.

DELANEY TARR, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: We didn`t fail. The people around us failed us. And if they continue to fail us, then they will no longer be in office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dear Congress, how can you claim to stand for the people, but let your kid get slaughtered like animals?

DIMITRI HOTH, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Congress and Senate, what if had happened to you or to your children? Would it take you so long to make a difference? DANIEL GELILLO, D.C. MARCH ORGANIZER: After seeing what happened in Parkland, I just decided that that was the last straw. Students can no longer stay silent on this issue. This country cannot stay silent on this issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was Daniel Gelillo, who organized today`s march in Washington, D.C.

Daniel joins me right now.

Daniel. Thank you for coming, Dan.

GELILLO: Thank you for having me.

MATTHEWS: I guess about this, people don`t do things for no reason. Why do you think a march would help?

GELILLO: Well, it brings much-needed attention to the fact that our country is in desperate need of gun control.

I mean, after Parkland, it`s just blatantly obvious that something needs to be done, and lawmakers aren`t taking that action. So, we are demanding that they do something now.

MATTHEWS: So, when you think about it, you think about the gun itself, the AR-15.

Tell me about that kind of gun and why it is particularly dangerous in a school.

GELILLO: I mean, it`s a weapon that`s modeled after the M-16, which is a military-grade weapon. And citizens are running around with them, particularly lunatics like this guy in Parkland, and they can do this massive damage. They can take lives. They maim people forever.

It`s just terrible.

MATTHEWS: You know, when Bobby Kennedy was killed back in `68, I wrote my congressman. I tried to do something, maybe the only time in my life I wrote my congressman. Well, something happened. Then it didn`t happen at all.

Something happened in the early `90s on assault weapons. Then, 10 years later, we`re back with no ban.

How do you get a ban? Who do you trust in the Congress? You going to go to the senators in Maryland, or where you going to go?

GELILLO: Well, Maryland`s already doing a lot.

We have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. But, nationally, something needs to happen. I mean, Parkland has to be the last school shooting. That`s like...

MATTHEWS: Did you sense Trump was moving a little? He talked today -- and I`m always watching with some skepticism. But he did talk today about doing something about the age requirement for buying one of these, not outlawing them, but saying you have got to be a certain age.

He did bring that up late today after the meeting you had.

GELILLO: I think that that shows that he is starting to waver.

Like, he is starting to realize that the public outcry is so great, and that he can`t just sit by, because, like I said earlier today, if lawmakers don`t do anything to fix this problem, to stop these killings, they are complicit in the murders of all these people, people from Sandy Hook, people from Orlando, the people from Las Vegas, and now the people from Parkland.

Something has to happen.

MATTHEWS: Do you think the next one is on him?

GELILLO: Yes, I think this one is on him, because he hasn`t done anything up until this point.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this idea. I`m sure it`s an NRA-approved idea, because it sells more guns.

Teachers carrying guns. Your thoughts, your feelings?

GELILLO: That`s ridiculous.

Like, the more guns that are in this country, like, the more at risk we are. I mean, the access is already, like, crazy. So why do teachers need to have them? There should be less guns, if anything. I mean, why do teachers need to have, like, an AR-15?

MATTHEWS: Keep up the good night. You know what a single-issue voter is?

GELILLO: Somebody who votes for a single issue.

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re up against them.

GELILLO: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Because they think about -- do you -- you probably have a lot of issues on your mind, right?

GELILLO: I mean...

MATTHEWS: How are you going to keep this issue on your mind months from now, years from now?

GELILLO: Well, the people that were at the protest that I organized today are going to be able to vote in 2018.

MATTHEWS: Will they vote on this issue?

GELILLO: Of course.

Like, they will be able to vote out of all these politicians that are bought and owned by the NRA. They don`t stand a chance once we`re at the ballot box.

MATTHEWS: Good for you. It`s hard to be a single-issue voter, though, because it almost makes you a little crazy.

GELILLO: Yes.

MATTHEWS: rMDNM_Because you have got to be like the people you`re against.

Dan, thank you so much.

GELILLO: Thank you for having me.

MATTHEWS: Dan Gelillo, it`s great to have you on.

You`re a very articulate fellow here and gutsy.

Up next: Today`s listening session made one thing clear. Gun violence is now a White House issue. As Dan just said, whether Trump likes it or not, he has bought this issue. He took it into the White House. It`s a White House issue. The next shooting, Trump`s.

The president has to actually have some guts now, because he`s got to the protect himself politically.

You`re watching -- as Dan just said.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In addition to what we`re going to do about background checks, we`re going to go very strong into age of purchase, and also we`re going to be very strong into the mental health aspect of what`s going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: That was President Trump vowing his administration will take action on background checks and mental health, also on the age of people able to buy things like the AR-15. Anyway, the president heard the emotional pleas, of course, of students who survived last week`s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I thought it was an amazing hour before he started talking.

Here we go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN GRUBER, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I was born into a world where I never got to experience safety and peace. There needs to be a significant change in this country because this has to never happen again.

SAM ZEIF, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Woke up to the news that my best friend was gone. And I don`t understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war, an AR.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Trump also invoked the story of a football coach at Stoneman Douglas who died protecting students to float this idea of his, it`s probably an NRA idea, of his solution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If he had a firearm, he wouldn`t have had to run. He would have shot and that would have been the end of it. This would only be obviously for people very adept at handling a gun. And it would be, it`s called concealed carry where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They`d go for special training.

And you would no longer have a gun-free zone. Gun-free zone to a maniac because they`re all cowards, a gun-free zone is let`s go in and let`s attack, because bullets aren`t coming back at us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Let`s bring in the HARDBALL roundtable. Yamiche Alcindor is White House correspondent for the "PBS NewsHour", Eugene Scott is political reporter for the "Washington Post," and Sam Stein is politics editor for "The Daily Beast."

Let me start at this end. Trump was pushing the NRA line today talking about emotional problems, that`s the soft that doesn`t deal with guns. But also this idea to arm teachers. He says you should be packing to use the term. In other words, on you, the teacher when they`re teaching arithmetic or whatever, physics, they have a gun on them, every student. Imagine schools where that would be a fighting issue.

Every student as a tough kid feels he`s challenged by a teacher. I know you`re armed. I know you`re a tough guy. Imagine the conversations that get started in the school.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR: That`s the traditional Republican way. That`s the NRA way that the NRA bought. The NRA bought politicians to say that.

MATTHEWS: Do we ever have teachers packing when they come into school in the morning, walking around the classroom with a gun?

ALCINDOR: To be fair, there were parents in there that also spoke about the idea they would want their teachers to be armed. It`s an idea that I guess is out there, but obviously, it would cause shoot-outs obviously.

MATTHEWS: When is a teacher allowed to shoot? Because a teacher, police officers get in trouble seeing a guy reaching for something and think it`s a gun and they shoot and they get in trouble. But they at least are authorized to do something like that. A teacher can`t shoot somebody until they`re shooting.

You can`t shoot a guy because he`s got the wrong gun. You can`t just start shooting a guy. How would it work?

EUGENE SCOTT, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, that`s obviously not clear. And one of the many problems it`s not known how a teacher would respond in a way that`s appropriate. There`s no consensus. I`ve spoken with many teachers and parents and students and many of them don`t support the idea, just creates more anxiety.

ALCINDOR: I`ve been talking to White House officials what does the president want to see done about this. They do want to obviously move on bump stocks. They think the president wants to have those things not be available to people.

MATTHEWS: Why is he going through ordinances? Why is he going through the E.O.? Why doesn`t he push the statute, Richard Blumenthal was here. Why doesn`t he say pass the law of the land? Why doesn`t he do that?

ALCINDOR: Because he wants to give himself political cover and the backlash from his base who will be angry he`s curtailing the Second Amendment rights.

MATTHEWS: In other words, he thinks it won`t get approved by the courts.

ALCINDOR: Yes, possibly.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Sam on this. I think he`s playing, as we used to say in the cowboy movies, speaking in a fork tongue, I don`t really believe him. Remember what he did with DACA? He was all for it meeting when he was meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Then all of a sudden, he started to fade and started adding all these new conditions. Remember?

SAM STEIN, POLITICAL EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Is he pulling the same number?

STEIN: You talk to anyone who does any bit of legislating on the Hill on the gun issue and no one trusts him. Part of that is reminiscent of the DACA debate. In fact, people I talked to the Hill said that. They don`t know where to pin him down.

Part is he`s trying to thread a needle. This is a man who was elected with more support from the NRA than any presidential candidate in history.

MATTHEWS: He says I`ll never let you down.

STEIN: This is also a man who back in his formative days as a real estate developer in New York City was very supportive of gun control measures. It`s tough to figure out where he is.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He is a city mouse like most of us. He doesn`t think guns are the solution to anything.

STEIN: I bet the Trump of 20 years ago would have responded very differently than the Trump of today. Now, his proposals are by and large either vague or a reflection of the gun lobby.

MATTHEWS: What about the age issue? He raised that late today.

STEIN: The age issue is the one thing, I know for a fact he has close associates and advisers pushing him because it`s common sense.

MATTHEWS: Twenty-one years to buy an assault rifle.

STEIN: If you take a step back, background checks, he means this is bill pushed by John Cornyn and Senator Murphy which is to staunchly to just beef up the current system, not to expand it. When he talked about mental health, he`s putting out the NRA line that all mental health people have a propensity to violence.

MATTHEWS: Since when did he care about mental health?

STEIN: They don`t. And, of course, there are mental problems at other countries and they don`t have gun problems.

MATTHEWS: The minute this young guy Nikolas Cruz goes to trial, they`ll want to execute him.

STEIN: Of course.

MATTHEWS: They don`t believe in mental illness.

STEIN: When we`re talking about guns in the classroom, we need to be very specific here. There`s not a -- well I shouldn`t say there`s not a single teacher. The vast majority of teachers oppose this idea. There`s data that suggests when you have guns around in a home, you are far more likely to have incidental shootings. This is the proposal of the NRA precisely because they want more guns. This means more guns.

MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t you shoot the teacher first?

STEIN: Who knows? We don`t pay our teachers to have classroom products. They have to buy their own supplies but now we`re going to spend the money to outfit them with guns and train them? It`s crazy.

ALCINDOR: When I talked to the White House and several officials and ask them, OK, what are the actual things you can do, are you OK with an assault ban? A weapons ban? Are you OK with changing the age? They would only say the president is open to changing the age. But they said --

MATTHEWS: Why do you think he`s open to that? It is reasonable. It`s a starter and gets you on first base.

SCOTT: The NRA --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why would he challenge -- because here`s my theory about politics. It`s all about timing. He will say anything for the next two or three weeks because he knows a month from now, people won`t be paying attention.

ALCINDOR: That`s essentially been his personality. He`s gotten away with being a person who says one thing, does something else and somehow continues to have political success.

MATTHEWS: As people fade, we`ll be talking about Russia tomorrow. These kids will be talking about all kinds of educational -- student loans. They`ll have things on their minds and he`s counting on that to fade them away.

STEIN: That is the classic story of gun control debates in this country. We had a congressman shot in the head, it faded away. We had 20 first graders shot.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: We had a president shot by a nut. Remember that one? It`s Ronald Reagan.

STEIN: Yes, it goes back to Reagan. The White House knows this. They know this. There is a limited attention span in this country even for mass tragedies like this. After the Vegas shooting --

MATTHEWS: Baseball game.

STEIN: -- everyone was talking about bump stocks.

MATTHEWS: How long ago was the baseball practicing that the congressman was shot? It`s fairly recent.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think the frequency is picking up, if you haven`t noticed. There`s more of this. And by the way, the next time. The gunfire next time, the quote James Baldwin, who is going to take the heat? Trump I think bought it today.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re coming back with the HARDBALL roundtable. Up next, we`re honoring Black History Month again tonight. Each member of our roundtable will tell us about their personal hero in African-American history.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable.

In honor of Black History Month, we`re asking each of our colleagues to tell us who their hero is in the African-American history books.

Yamiche?

ALCINDOR: I choose one of my mentors, Gwenn Ifill. She was a prominent journalist. She personally mentored me and she was -- a picture of us together at the NABJ convention. She was one who worked for the newspapers. She worked for "The Washington Post" and "New York Times" before then working for NBC News and then going on to work for PBS. That`s where at the PBS where she made her mark.

She was one of the first or the first African-American woman to moderate a vice presidential debate. She also made history as being one of the two first female anchors, national political anchors, along with Judy Woodruff. She passed away in November, 2016 which is really, really hard for me and a lot of journalists.

But she mentored a lot of women and someone I look up to and think about very, very often.

MATTHEWS: It was your feeling about her that inspired me to do this whole thing, by the way. I thought that`s what it`s about.

Eugene?

SCOTT: I also chose a well respected black journalist who recently passed away. Lerone Bennett, he was an author and historian and executive editor of "Ebony" magazine and "Jet" magazine which many realized are publications at the forefront of addressing issues related to black Americans before the mainstream media told the stories and took them seriously. And I so looked to "Ebony" magazine and "Jet" magazine as a kid growing up to see my story and community reflected in ways the mainstream media did not.

MATTHEWS: When I grew up, there were no blacks in advertisements or any shows.

SCOTT: No.

MATTHEWS: Alfred Hitchcock made movies in New York City with no blacks in the street. They cleared the streets. That`s how bad it was.

STEIN: I don`t have a journalist.

MATTHEWS: OK.

STEIN: But I went because it`s baseball season coming upon us, I went Jackie Robinson. Big baseball buff myself. I can only imagine how hard it was to integrate our national pastime, and the stuff he went through, the vitriol, the racism, going from town to town, not knowing -- not being able to stay with your teammates and to endure that on your own on an island like that when you are in the spotlight of the most popular sport in America takes real guts and fortitude.

MATTHEWS: The Philly (INAUDIBLE) was not nice to him.

STEIN: I mean, most of our guys were not nice to him.

MATTHEWS: They were not. They were saying stuff you can`t imagine.

SCOTT: He was such a person with so many ideas about the GOP.

STEIN: And later in his life, my dad saw him in the hospital in Yale and he almost went up and said hi and he always regrets not doing it.

MATTHEWS: He had great dignity, that guy, very powerful. What a story.

Thank you, Yamiche Alcindor, for starting this whole thing, Eugene Scott and Sam Stein.

When we return, let me finish with the powerful honest human voices we heard today in the East Room of the White House.

You`re watching HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me end the show tonight with a powerful honest human voices we heard from late today in the White House East Room.

Sitting in a wide circle, they opened themselves emotionally, thoughtfully and desperately to ways they imagined or hoped could prevent more of the mass school shootings last suffered in Parkland, Florida. They talked about banning the devices, bump stocks that make semi-automatic rifles into Tommy guns, of school drills, of raising the age on who can buy an AR-15 or outright banning the AR-15 assault rifle.

Of the bullying that leads some teenagers to resort to the mass revenge on classmates, of the failure to act on signs that a student is becoming violent and the basic challenge of making a school safe. There were all kinds of propositions some of them in conflict.

Should we arm our teachers so there is someone to challenge the shooter in those vital minutes before the first responders even arrive, or does that detract from the teacher`s primary role which is education, guidance and encouragement? What I liked most about watching that scene in the White House East Room today was the openness and honesty of the discourse.

When I hear a politician talk about guns, I hear someone with the NRA in his ear, or the Second Amendment voter on his mind. Today I heard people with human experience speaking their hearts. The one group of Americans who lack the First Amendment right to freedom of speech are our politicians on the topic of guns. They don`t speak honestly about guns can because they fear to.

And late this afternoon, we had the gratifying experience of hearing from people not in the bag of or in 24/7 fear of the National Rifle Association. And that`s what seems so refreshingly, honestly, truly American.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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