Although Congress has been on recess, it’s been a very hot politically-filled August inside and outside of Washington, DC.
Eyewitness News’ Brad Byrd talks to Congressman Larry Bucshon about his town hall in Evansville, gun control, a possible recession and his future.
Brad Byrd: Although Congress has been on recess – this has been a very hot politically filled August inside and outside of Washington. And joining me tonight is Indiana 8th District Congressman Larry Bucshon. The Republican is running for his sixth term in 2020 and after that is to be determined. Dr. Bucshon, you held your first town hall meeting in Evansville in two years. You had supporters and detractors there. Were you surprised with the reaction you saw there?
Dr. Larry Bucshon: No, I actually thought it was a good evening. You’re going to have some people who agree with you and some who disagree with you. I do these town halls in off election years because in election years it turns into more of a security risk and the Capitol police have said because of the intensity in the last couple of years, during an election year – last year – they recommended we don’t do these large events. I like to do these, I thought we had a good discussion. I expect people to agree and disagree and I heard a lot from my constituents, which is the intent for me to hear what they have to say.
Brad Byrd: Is there any other way for you to communicate with your constituents other than face-to-face?
Dr. Larry Bucshon: Oh yeah, I do all the time. On social media, I interact with constituents all the time – people will tell you I respond back to Facebook questions. We get emails, letters, phone calls, and I do office hours as well as my staff does office hours all the time across all 19 counties I represent. So, there’s a lot of ways we interact. Plus, I do things like Rotary Clubs and Chambers and I tour businesses all the time talking with constituents so, yeah, there’s a lot of ways to communicate.
Brad Byrd: Heading back to the Hill in Sept. Big topic has been gun control – of course – but with the nature of bipartisanship or lack thereof – what do you think is going to be on the top of the priority list and will something be done?
Dr. Larry Bucshon: First of all, let me touch on what the big issue will be when we get back is funding the government because the end of the fiscal year comes up at the end of September. But I think with the budget agreement we have; we’ll get the government funded and there shouldn’t be a shutdown. You know, on the gun issue, look everyone wants these types of shootings to stop. All of our citizens want that to happen, but I think it’s important for people to understand you cannot buy a gun legally in the United States without a background check unless it’s a private sale. You cannot buy a gun on the internet – you can’t buy a gun at a gun show – you can’t buy a gun anywhere legally without a background check. Where people have some concerns is on the private sale. Say you were going to sell me a gun (for example) – personally – and in that case you can sell guns legally without getting a background check and so, that’s the concern people have. But here’s the issue, the majority of my constituents don’t want it to be illegal to loan a gun to a friend for hunting or to sell a gun to their brother or their family member. So, that’s the only deficit in the background check system. There’s a misconception there.
Brad Byrd: Well, the president said he would support some type of universal background check and then he pulled back. So, there was what was conceived as a conflicting message there – he wanted to concentrate more on the mental health issue – but there is a segment of this population that honestly feels that there should be some type of way to close up some of these loopholes that can be extremely dangerous.
Dr. Larry Bucshon: Like I said the only loophole – so to speak – is the private sales of firearms. So, you can’t buy a gun legally otherwise – it’s not true that you can buy a gun on the internet, or at a gun show or without a background check being done. But what happens sometimes at gun shows is people sell guns out in the parking lot – private sales. Now, can we do something with that? Maybe we can, but look we all want this to stop so, I think the first thing to do is take the politics out of it and let’s look at things that really work. The National Database – I support that – I support background checks. But there’s a deficit in mental health because physicians are sometimes afraid to report people to the database because of HIPPA privacy laws. So, can we make a safe harbor for providers so that they’re not afraid to report people – I think we can do that. There are other areas of mental health that we already have – Indiana for example, has a red flag law, where family members or others can report people. Now, at the national level that’s more difficult because many states have done this, and they don’t want us to preempt their law. So, there are some things we can do and I think we need to look at the things that work and quit talking politics about the things that don’t to make one party or the other look like they don’t care about it.
Brad Byrd: Do you feel there is going to be a recession?
Dr. Larry Bucshon: No, I don’t, but I do think there are some pressures. I think the trade pressure and the trade situation has me concerned. Otherwise the economy is really strong. But I do think we need to pass the UMCA, the so-called, new NAFTA. And that’s really up to Speaker Pelosi to bring that up. Some of the people in her party have some concerns about the labor divisions in the law so, they want us to reopen that and change some of those things. But Mexico and Canada are already on a path to ratify it. I am a little concerned about the trade situation – particularly with China – we need to pass the new NAFTA – we need to get a deal with our European partners.
Brad Byrd: Let’s talk about your future Congressman. You probably already have your answer well-rehearsed on this one – you’re running for your sixth term in 2020, but 2022 seems to be kind of up in the air.
Dr. Larry Bucshon: Well, I never make a presumption that I’m going to win in 2020. I think when politicians look that far ahead and say hey I’m going to run for re-election in the out years, that’s assuming your constituents will elect you in the next election. I try to focus on the next election – doing a good job for my constituents and earning their support and that’s what I am planning to do in 2020. Pass that, if my constituents continue to want me to serve, then I’ll take that into consideration.
Brad Byrd: Congressman Bucshon thank you for being here tonight.
Dr. Larry Bucshon: Thank you, Brad.
(This story was originally published on August 27, 2019)