HH: And to be joined by Congresswoman Diane Black, Republican Congresswoman from Tennessee. She is going to be the next governor of Tennessee when they get to the polls in November. Congresswoman Black, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, great to have you.
DB: Oh, it’s great to be back with you. You have a rainy day as well, huh?
HH: I do. It’s been raining for three weeks up here. I’m building an ark. Congresswoman, I’ve got to begin. We have something in common. I spent Meet the Press a week before Sunday talking about the need for STOP orders, severe threat orders of protection, and I spent my radio show the following day after the Santa Fe tragedy and the shooting down there talking about all the things that go into getting a STOP order or GVRO, which includes assessment of the entire student and whether or not due process protections allow them to be put into the care of a physician and their guns taken away, etc. And some moron blogger goes out and said I called for banning trench coats. That’s what they collapsed my entire argument into, I wanted to ban trench coats. Of course, I never used that term, never called for that, but that’s what went out. And I had to battle that for a couple of days, and it went away. I think the same thing has just happened to you, right?
DB: Oh, yes, absolutely. I talked about what’s happening with the young people. I asked people in my audiences how many of you had this happen when you were in school, and very, very few hands go up. Anybody who is maybe 40 or older, 30 and older, don’t even recall anything near like this happening. And so what is the problem? And I believe the problem is the breakdown of families and children not having good, strong mentors and loving families to keep them on the right track. And you know when you’re a teenager and you don’t have someone guiding you, you will go in the wrong direction. And we do have teenagers that maybe have a propensity for some mental illness that aren’t being treated. And if we look at all of the ones who have committed these heinous acts of violence, we will see that there is something missing in their life, and that they do have a mental illness. And so I believe that we’ve got to have not just teachers and counselors, but also parents and other students who will say I saw Johnny getting more isolated and doing strange things and saying strange things. And I think when you see something, you need to say something. And we’ve got to do a better job on recognizing mental illness for the student and also for those around them.
HH: Now Diane Black, after Parkland, one of the people you’ll be sitting down with at the National Governor’s Association is Doug Ducey, who put together the Safe Arizona Schools Plan, which is quite comprehensive. And it went back through all of the massacres at schools, and it identified what the shooters were about and why they were not stopped and how they slipped through the net. And they came up with a comprehensive plan. And one part of that was a STOP order, and it characterized it as comprehensive. And yet, people mischaracterized it, and they mischaracterize you, and they mischaracterize me, and in fact, someone will listen to you today and they’ll say oh, she denied it. And in fact, that’s just the media that we’re living with, and it’s profoundly irresponsible towards the problem to misrepresent the complexity of it.
DB: Absolutely. I totally agree with you on that. And that’s what they’re doing, is they’re trying to pick some little thing out and twist it and turn it rather than being a part of the solution to this very, very serious problem. And we have got to address this. Well, you know, people talk about the weapons, the guns being the weapon. But I can tell you if the child can’t find a gun, they’re going to find another way if they’re bent on destruction whether that’s burning down the school, whether that’s a pipe bomb or whatever. So we’ve got to go back to the root cause. Look, I’m a nurse. And I was taught that in nursing school. I still use that in many parts of my life, is to go back and look at what’s the root cause. And the root cause is that we have children that don’t have guidance and are getting into different situations where they became isolated and then something like this occurs. And we have got to address it.
HH: How much in your town halls, Congresswoman Black, as you campaign for governor, how much do the school shootings come up? And how concerned are your audiences? Is it almost on everyone’s front of mind?
DB: Absolutely. It comes up quite frequently, and we do have very serious conversations about what can you do, what are there…and I think Mr. Ducey and I have seen some of the suggestions. I’m looking for everything that’s out there just trying to find what kind of good solutions we have. But it is not the solution of the gun. They can lay a gun on the table and put a camera on it, which we have done with our second vote. I don’t know whether you know about that. That’s for another day. And we’ve shown that you have, we’ve had a camera on a gun now for a year and a half, and it hasn’t committed any crime. It’s not the gun that commits the crime. It’s the person who picks it up. And it just so happens…
HH: Now there’s, there’s a new video game out, and it simulates school shootings. And people are rightly outraged about that. That does not help, either, but I’m not going to say that’s the problem. I am aware of what the media does. And I’m just wondering how you campaign in an environment where in fact the people in my business are not interested, actually, in anything except clicks and views so that the distortion factor is so high. How do you even campaign in a situation like that?
DB: Because I just tell the truth, Hugh. And when it gets misrepresented, it gets misrepresented, and it gives me an opportunity to tell the truth again. And I have a lot of head nods in the audience, because the people in the audience know this is true. Where a child doesn’t have guidance, they will get into trouble. Idle hands are the Devil’s handiwork, as I always say, and especially when we have adolescents who need that guidance as much as they did when they were very, very young.
HH: Now I’ve got to talk to you about President Trump since he was in your state last night, and not only in your state, had quite the reception, which is always amazing that it’s not, he’s not on the ballot, but he’s still got this incredible reservoir of support. To what do you attribute that? Who is going to the Trump rally? Who is doing all this?
DB: You would just look across the audience. It is a mixture all the way from the very young to those of the older. Every race was represented there last night. There was so much enthusiasm in the audience. People are responding to just this very home kind of talk that he does. You know, he just like sitting around the kitchen table talking, and he’s not afraid to tell the truth. And frankly, people find that very refreshing, because too many times in politics, people do dance. And I always say when you stand in the middle of the road, you get run over both ways. There are too many politicians who try to do that. But he’s very forward, and he says what he thinks, and people appreciate that. They may not agree with him always 100%, but there was a lot of cheering in that audience last night. And he was warmly received in Nashville, very warmly received.
HH: Now Diane Black, yesterday, the consumer board put out that we are at a 17 year high in consumer confidence. It’s a 161.7 up from 157.5 in May. This is, you know, when the board speaks like this, people begin to say wow, the economy is cooking. Is that the case in Tennessee?
DB: Absolutely. We are just booming here in Tennessee. As a matter of fact, in middle Tennessee, we have about 100 people that are moving into middle Tennessee every day, and it’s because we have low taxes, because our economy is good, our economy is growing. It’s a great place to live. We have, we’re number four in lowest per capita tax population in the entire country. And so people are moving here. Our economy is unbelievable in Tennessee, and people are responding to that. They’re seeing more in their paychecks because of the tax cuts. And being involved in that, I’m very, it probably will be on the most proud things I’ve done in my life is to be involved in that. But you know, decrease in regulations, allowing businesses to do more, to pay their employees more. So all of this is really showing up in people’s pockets, and they’re happy.
HH: Now one of my close friends, a guy named Grant Starrett, you know Grant from his Congressional run.
DB: I do.
HH: And Grant’s a very good friend of mine. He was up last week. I had lunch with him. He tells me housing is going to be an issue in Tennessee, because you know, apartments, he’s in the apartment business. People are building as fast as they can. What is it like in Tennessee to buy a house right now?
DB: Well, outside of Nashville proper or the big cities, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis, the housing is pretty good. You can still afford a house. What we’re worried about is people who are working in the industries that are needed within those urban areas. So in the hotels and the restaurants and so on, the cost of living has gone up so high there, because there are so few places now that they have to move outside the city and then ride back in for their work, for their jobs. And that is a concern. So we are looking at how we can have more affordable housing for people that are working in those high volume areas.
HH: And last question, Diane Black, the unemployment nationally is 3.9%. We’re at this low. I don’t know if you can go much lower than 3.9%. What’s the job situation like in Tennessee?
DB: Well, Hugh, you know, you speak about that, and it is the same kind of thing here. We have the lowest, I think, in probably 20 years. But the other thing that I want to mention and is not mentioned frequently is the workforce participation rate, because we still have people that are out of work and not working. Some of that’s by choice. Some of that’s by not having a skill. And I think that’s the group we really have to look at, because the unemployment number is just the number of people who are no longer eligible for unemployment. But you also have people that are not working that could work that are able-bodied. And part of that is getting them a good education. Part of it is bringing them outside of the welfare of understanding that they can get a good job, and finding a way to bring that group of people back into the job market.
HH: Diane Black, always good to talk to you. Good luck in continuing to campaign. It’s going to be a long way until November, and I know you’re going to be a great governor in Tennessee. I look forward to talking to you as Governor Black.
End of interview.