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In the Crossfire

Filmmaker Michael Moore takes on America's gun culture

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The search for the D.C.-area sniper has thrust the issue of gun control into the political spotlight. Filmmaker Michael Moore takes an uncompromising look at America's gun culture in "Bowling for Columbine."

In it, Moore goes after the NRA, Charlton Heston and the Kmart that sold the bullets to the killers responsible for the Columbine High School massacre. He stepped into the "Crossfire" with hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson to talk about Columbine, his new movie and the sniper attacks.

BEGALA: ... I love your economic populism. Obviously, I don't like how you bang on Bill Clinton, who was, in terms of economic policy, the best president we had since Franklin Roosevelt. But you attack him in this movie on foreign policy.

You point out that on April 20, 1999, the day that these children murdered all those other kids at Columbine, that NATO, of which the U.S. was the leader, dropped more bombs than any other day in pursuit of stopping genocide in Europe. Do you think it was wrong to use force to stop a man who was clearly a war criminal convicted -- or now about to be convicted -- of ethnic cleansing, killing people because of their race? Was that wrong?

MOORE: It was wrong to bomb civilians. Always wrong to bomb civilians.

BEGALA: But yet it happens as an accident in every war. Are you saying it was America's strategy, NATO's strategy, to attack civilians?

MOORE: Well, it may not be my strategy to run over you tonight with my car, but if I accidentally do it, would that be OK just because it was an accident? Of course it wouldn't. You know we have to take responsibility for our actions.

Those bombs that dropped on the hospital, that dropped on the elementary school, that dropped on the train load of civilians, had Paul's name on it and Mike's name on it and Tucker's name on it. Because we pay taxes that pay for those bombs.

Hundreds of thousands of Serbs were already in the street. They were ready to overthrow Milosevic. There was no reason to have the bombing that went on like that on that particular day or any other day.

CARLSON: OK. Now, Michael Moore, you just said something I've been waiting years to hear you say, and that is we need to accept responsibility for those things we do. Your movie implies that somehow Clinton was responsible for Columbine, that Lockheed Martin in the same town is responsible for Columbine. Everyone but the people who actually committed the murders.

MOORE: I don't believe that.

CARLSON: My question to you is, who do you think is responsible? What multinational corporation is responsible for these sniper shootings in Washington?

MOORE: But I don't believe that at Columbine.

CARLSON: That's exactly what your movie implies. I just watched it.

MOORE: Well, again, I think you must have been next door at the Vin Diesel movie. I just -- you have to...

CARLSON: That would have been a little more entertaining perhaps than your movie.

MOORE: Quit going to these big multiplexes. Go to the standalone theaters with the big screens. One movie.

CARLSON: To explain Columbine in your film, you go to the Lockheed Martin plant in Littleton, Colorado and shoot tape of [the plant,] implying that that's responsible.

MOORE: Well, I think it's [a] legitimate question to ask. Looking at the overall fabric of our society and how violence weaves itself in, in many ways, that in the town where this massacre took place at this school, the number one employer is the world's largest weapons maker. That's not to say that Lockheed Martin is responsible for the massacre at Columbine.

I'm just asking that we, as Americans, take a look at this violent culture that we've created. The violence that happens personally, in our communities, and globally. And...

CARLSON: So who is responsible for the sniper attacks? Which among us is? Not the sniper, but what forces you just alluded to are responsible for these attacks, do you think?

MOORE: What are you talking about? I don't understand what you're saying. Well nobody knows who is responsible for it.

CARLSON: Well I don't know, if you are willing to draw a connection between Lockheed Martin and Columbine, I was thinking you might have a creative explanation for this.

MOORE: Oh, I understand your question now. Oh, who is responsible for why now we're up to our, what, 12th shooting? It's because the police in this area are not able to trace the bullet to the gun that was bought because the National Rifle Association has coerced Congress into making sure that there is no federal database of ballistics fingerprinting.

... You, of all people, Mr. "Conservative," Mr. "Law and Order," that you would sit there with that smirk on your face while people are dying and not support the police having the tools available to them to catch this guy, it's just an outrage.

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