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NBC's Andrea Mitchell Argues Gun Rights 'Can Be Infringed'

In a contentious exchange with Eric Pratt of Gun Owners of America on her Wednesday MSNBC show, host Andrea Mitchell declared that Constitutional rights, like the right to bear arms, were more like suggestions: "Well, they can be infringed, because the First Amendment is infringed, I have to obey all sorts of regulations from the FCC, there are things we can't say in a crowded theater, so every right also carries with it responsibilities and obligations." [Listen to the audio]

That was in response to Pratt explaining: "...a very important concept of inalienable rights, because whether it's the right to vote, right to sit behind a microphone, or the right to choose how I'm going to protect myself, all those rights cannot be infringed, as the Second Amendment says."

After Mitchell compared gun ownership to shouting fire in a crowded theater, Pratt pushed back: "...we don't gag people before they go into the theater, we punish the lawbreakers. And in the same way, we would argue punish those who abuse the right, but don't gag law-abiding citizens before they exercise their right."

Here is a transcript of the January 16 exchange:

1:19PM ET

BARACK OBAMA: This will be difficult. There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical all-out assault on liberty. Not because that's true, but because they want to gin up fear.

ANDREA MITCHELL: President Obama ready to wage a political battle for his gun proposals against the gun lobby. And joining me now is Eric Pratt, communications director for Gun Owners of America. Mr. Pratt, thank you very much for being with us.

ERIC PRATT [GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA]: Thank you for having me.

MITCHELL: First of all, your response to the President and his proposals. Are there things that he proposed that you could support, perhaps tightening the rules on background checks?

PRATT: Well, we don't think that any of the things that he's proposing would have stopped what happened in Connecticut, wouldn't have stopped Adam Lanza from killing a victim and stealing those firearms to commit such an atrocity. If there is an area of agreement that we have with the President, he quoted from the Declaration of Independence saying that all men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. And that's a very important concept of inalienable   rights, because whether it's the right to vote, right to sit behind a microphone, or the right to choose how I'm going to protect myself, all those rights cannot be infringed, as the Second Amendment says.

MITCHELL: Well, they can be infringed, because the First Amendment is infringed, I have to obey all sorts of regulations from the FCC, there are things we can't say in a crowded theater, so every right also carries with it responsibilities and obligations.

PRATT: What's interesting about that, though, is we don't gag people before they go into the theater, we punish the lawbreakers. And in the same way, we would argue punish those who abuse the right, but don't gag law-abiding citizens before they exercise their right. We shouldn't be registering them like sex offenders, like they are in New York. We shouldn't be in any way impeding them if they have not committed a crime.

(...)