The news that Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) was joining other Republican stalwarts at this weekend’s National Rifle Association (NRA) convention struck Real Time host Bill Maher as a perfect fit on Friday.
“Ted Nugent is speaking, he’s speaking, Sarah Palin is speaking,” Maher said after playing a clip from Perry’s entrance video, which shows him shooting eggs to the tune of a Nugent song. “The Axis of Assholes.”
But the video, Maher said, also showed the problems of romanticizing firearms, to which MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out that most Americans do not own guns.
“Gun ownership is a minority activity,” O’Donnell said. “The rate of gun ownership in this country is declining significantly. That’s why the NRA is pushing this so hard. And what you have, in terms of gun sales, is simply fanatic collectors.”
But conservative columnist and activist Mattie Duppler dismissed O’Donnell’s allegations.
“I’m from Wisconsin,” she said. “This is what people do on weekends for fun. I don’t understand why we’re concerned about Rick Perry shooting a gun.”
“They’re selling them to 5-year-olds, that’s why,” Maher replied.
Maher and his panelists also had a spirited argument about the recent Farleigh Dickinson University survey that showed 44 percent of Republicans thought an armed revolution “may one day be necessary,” as he pilloried the idea that the Second Amendment protected them against tyranny.
“Thinking the Second Amendment protects you from tyranny is like thinking the First Amendment protects you from Thor,” he said.
While Duppler called Maher’s argument terrifying, Fox News analyst Pete Hegseth pushed back.
“You’re saying there’s no instance, even in the abstract, when liberty would need to be preserved at the point of a weapon?” he asked . Before he could continue, though, O’Donnell quickly jumped in.
“Correct,” O’Donnell said. “Zero. We’re past it. You said the present tense. It is 2013. And oh by the way, a long time before that, this country long passed the point when you would ever have to rise in arms against this government.”
“Tell that to the rebels in Syria,” Hegseth shot back.
“No, we’re talking about the United States of America,” O’Donnell responded. “These nuts are not talking about Syria.”
O’Donnell then used the poll results to ask his own question of Hegseth, a military veteran.
“These 44 percent of Republicans are saying, the day may come where they may have to aim their guns at guys like you in American military uniforms,” he began. “How does that make you feel?”
“I’m not worried about that right now,” Hegseth replied. “Nor do I share in the conspiracy theories that our government, the Obama administration — which, so much of what feeds this, that ‘It’s the Obama administration coming for your [guns] — I don’t share [in] and prescribe to that. But I think we’re foolish, if we think today, that there isn’t a series of scenarios, a hundred years down the line or wherever we want to carve down –”
“A hundred years down the line,” O’Donnell sighed, throwing his arms up.
“We’ll be lucky if we survive the wildfires this week!” said Maher.